Many drugs are effective in the early stage of treatment, but patients develop drug resistance after a certain period of treatment, causing failure of the therapy. An important example is Herceptin, a popular monoclonal antibody drug for breast cancer by specifically targeting human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (Her2). Here we demonstrate a quantitative binding kinetics analysis of drug-target interactions to investigate the molecular scale origin of drug resistance. Using a surface plasmon resonance imaging, we measured the in situHerceptin-Her2 binding kinetics in single intact cancer cells for the first time, and observed significantly weakened Herceptin-Her2 interactions in Herceptin-resistant cells, compared to those in Herceptin-sensitive cells. We further showed that the steric hindrance of Mucin-4, a membrane protein, was responsible for the altered drug-receptor binding. This effect of a third molecule on drug-receptor interactions cannot be studied using traditional purified protein methods, demonstrating the importance of the present intact cell-based binding kinetics analysis.
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