Scanning force microscopy studies of the S-layers from Bacillus coagulans E38-66, Bacillus sphaericus CCM2177 and of an antibody binding process

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In many prokaryotic cells (eubacteria and archaebacteria) the outermost cell envelope component is composed of a regularly structured protein surface layer (S-layer). The two-dimensional S-layer from Bacillus coagulans E38-66 and Bacillus sphaericus CCM2177 has been investigated by SFM at molecular resolution under physiological conditions (i.e., in buffer solution). We find the E38-66 S-layer lattice to be oblique with lattice parameters of a = 9-10 nm, b = 7-8 nm and γ = 80°-90° (E38-66). The CCM2177 lattice is square with a = 12-14 nm, in good agreement with TEM data. We have used the unique possibility of the SFM to study the kinematics of biological processes and have performed experiments on the adhesion of polyclonal antibodies to the recrystallized E38-66 protein layer on a time scale of about two to ten seconds per image frame. This represents a first step in directly visualizing molecular recognition reactions. © 1992.