The impact of flow disturbances on platelet adhesion is complex and incompletely understood. At the molecular scale, platelet glycoprotein Ibα (GPIbα) must associate with the von Willebrand factor A1 domain (VWF-A1) with a rapid on-rate under high hemodynamic forces, as occurs in arterial thrombosis, where various transport mechanisms are at work. Here, we theoretically modeled the coupled transport-reaction process of the two-dimensional (2D) receptor-ligand association kinetics in a biomembrane force probe to explicitly account for the effects of molecular length, confinement stiffness, medium viscosity, surface curvature, and separation distance. We experimentally verified the theoretical approach by visualizing association and dissociation of individual VWF-A1-GPIbα bonds in a real-time thermal fluctuation assay. The apparent on-rate, reciprocal of the average time intervals between sequential bonds, decreased with the increasing gap distance between A1- and GPIbα-bearing surfaces with an 80-nm threshold (beyond which bond formation became prohibitive) identified as the combined contour length of the receptor and ligand molecules. The biomembrane force probe spring constant and diffusivity of the protein-bearing beads also significantly influenced the apparent on-rate, in accordance with the proposed transport mechanisms. The global agreement between the experimental data and the model predictions supports the hypothesis that receptor-ligand association behaves distinctly in the transport- and reaction-limited scenarios. To our knowledge, our results represent the first detailed quantification of physical regulation of the 2D on-rate that allows platelets to sense and respond to local changes in their hemodynamic environment. In addition, they provide an approach for determining the intrinsic kinetic parameters that employs simultaneous experimental measurements and theoretical modeling of bond association in a single assay. The 2D intrinsic forward rate for VWF-A1-GPIbα association was determined from the measurements to be (3.5 ± 0.67) × 10(-4)μm(2) s(-1).
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