Understanding the impacts of cellular environments on ligand binding of membrane receptors by computational simulations

Zhaoqian Su, Kalyani Dhusia, Yinghao Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Binding of cell surface receptors with their extracellular ligands initiates various intracellular signaling pathways. However, our understanding of the cellular functions of these receptors is very limited due to the fact that in vivo binding between ligands and receptors has only been successfully measured in a very small number of cases. In living cells, receptors are anchored on surfaces of the plasma membrane, which undergoes thermal undulations. Moreover, it has been observed in various systems that receptors can be organized into oligomers prior to ligand binding. It is not well understood how these cellular factors play roles in regulating the dynamics of ligand-receptor interactions. Here, we tackled these problems by using a coarse-grained kinetic Monte Carlo simulation method. Using this method, we demonstrated that the membrane undulations cause a negative effect on ligand-receptor interactions. We further found that the preassembly of membrane receptors on the cell surface can not only accelerate the kinetics of ligand binding but also reduce the noises during the process. In general, our study highlights the importance of membrane environments in regulating the function of membrane receptors in cells. The simulation method can be potentially applied to specific receptor systems involved in cell signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number055101
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 7 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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