Weassess the cross-reactivity of both cellular as well as recombinant E- and N-cadherins using functionalized bead arrays assembled on atomic-force-microscope cantilevers. This new approach builds upon and enhances the utility of a recently developed force probe that integrates a custom-built, horizontal atomic force microscope with micropipette manipulation. It enables us to test multiple biomolecular interactions of the same cell in a swift sequential or cyclic manner and thus to resolve subtle differences between individual interactions that otherwise would be obscured by cell-cell baseline variability. For each cell, we contrast heterophilic E:N-cadherin binding with the respectiv homophilic bonds and with a suitable control. Clarifying previous literature reports, we establish that specific bonds between E- and N-cadherins form readily, albeit less frequently than homophilic bonds of either cadherin. We support this assessment with a rough estimate of the ratio of on-rate constants of E/N-cadherin binding.
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