Discrimination between target and non-target interactions on the viral surface by merging fluorescence emission into Rayleigh scattering†
Direct and quantitative determination of antibodies or cellular receptors dynamically binding to the surface of viral particles is the key issue for predicting the efficacy of therapeutic materials or host susceptibility to a new emerging pathogen. However, targeted visualization of infectious viruses is still highly challenging owing to their nanoscopic sizes and uncontrollable nonspecific interactions with loading molecules responsible for false signals. Here we present a multimodal single-molecule and single-particle (SMSP) visualization capable of simultaneously yet independently tracking Rayleigh scattering and fluorescence that, respectively, are generated from viruses (approximately 100 nm) and labeled interacting molecules. By analyzing real-time trajectories of fluorescent antibodies against a virus surface protein with reference to single virus-derived Rayleigh scattering, we determined heterogeneous binding stoichiometry of virus-antibody couplings irrespective of the nonspecific binder population. Therefore, our multimodal (or multi-level) SMSP assay visually identifies and selectively quantifies specific interactions between them with single binding event accuracy. As a ‘specific-binding quantifier’ to assess variable host susceptibility to a virus, it was further applied for distinguishing ratiometric bindings and spontaneous dissociation kinetics of synthesized isomeric receptors to influenza virus. The present framework could offer a solid analytical foundation for the development of a direct-acting antiviral agent inhibiting an integral viral enveloped protein and for nanobiological investigation for dissecting spatiotemporal nanoparticle–molecule interactions, which have been scarcely explored compared to those among plasmonic nanoparticles or among molecules only.