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Imaging and Measuring the Molecular Force of Lymphoma Pathological Cells Using Atomic Force Microscopy


  • Contract grant sponsor: National Natural Science Foundation of China; Contract grant number: 60904095, 61175103; Contract grant sponsor: CAS FEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams.

Address for reprints: Lianqing Liu, State Key Laboratory of Robotics, Shenyang Institute of Automation Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China E-mail:,,


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) provides a new technology to visualize the cellular topography and quantify the molecular interactions at nanometer spatial resolution. In this work, AFM was used to image the cellular topography and measure the molecular force of pathological cells from B-cell lymphoma patients. After the fluorescence staining, cancer cells were recognized by their special morphological features and then the detailed topography was visualized by AFM imaging. The AFM images showed that cancer cells were much rougher than healthy cells. CD20 is a surface marker of B cells and rituximab is a monoclonal antibody against CD20. To measure the CD20-rituximab interaction forces, the polyethylene glycol (PEG) linker was used to link rituximab onto the AFM tip and the verification experiments of the functionalized probe indicated that rituximab molecules were successfully linked onto the AFM tip. The CD20-rituximab interaction forces were measured on about 20 pathological cells and the force measurement results indicated the CD20-rituximab binding forces were mainly in the range of 110–120 pN and 130–140 pN. These results can improve our understanding of the topography and molecular force of lymphoma pathological cells. SCANNING 35:40-46, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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