A detailed model is presented for protein binding to active surfaces, with application to the binding of avidin molecules to a biotin-functionalized fiber optic sensor in experiments reported by S. Zhao and W. M. Reichert (American Chemical Society Symposium Series 493, 1992). Kinetic data for binding in solution are used to assign an intrinsic catalytic rate coefficient k to the biotin- avidin pair, deconvoluted from transport and electrostatic factors via application of coagulation theory. This intrinsic chemical constant is built into a reaction-diffusion analysis of surface binding where activity is restricted to localized sites (representing immobilized biotin molecules). The analysis leads to an effective catalytic rate coefficient k(off) characterizing the active surface. Thereafter, solution of the transport problem describing absorption of avidin molecules by the macroscopic sensor surface leads to predictions of the avidin flux, which are found to be in good agreement with the experimental data. The analysis suggests the following conclusions. 1) Translational diffusion limitations are negligible for avidin-biotin binding in solution owing to the small (kinetically limiting) value k = 0.00045 m/s. 2) The sparse distribution of biotin molecules and the presence of a repulsive hydration force produce an effective surface-average catalytic rate coefficient k(off) of order 10-7 m/s, much smaller than k. 3) Avidin binding to the fiber optic sensor occurs in an intermediate regime where the rate is influenced by both kinetics and diffusion.
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