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Schoeler, Constantin; Verdorfer, Tobias; Gaub, Hermann E. and Nash, Michael A. (2016): Biasing effects of receptor-ligand complexes on protein-unfolding statistics. In: Physical Review E, Vol. 94, No. 4, 42412

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Protein receptor-ligand pairs are increasingly used as specific molecular handles in single-molecule protein-unfolding experiments. Further, known marker domains, also referred to as fingerprints, provide unique unfolding signatures to identify specific single-molecule interactions, when receptor-ligand pairs themselves are investigated. We show here that in cases where there is an overlap between the probability distribution associated with fingerprint domain unfolding and that associated with receptor-ligand dissociation, the experimentally measured force distributions are mutually biased. This biasing effect masks the true parameters of the underlying free energy landscape. To address this, we present a model-free theoretical framework that corrects for the biasing effect caused by such overlapping distributions.

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