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Equilibrium Probability Distribution for Number of Bound Receptor-Ligand Complexes

TitleEquilibrium Probability Distribution for Number of Bound Receptor-Ligand Complexes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsChakrabortty, T, Varma, MM
JournalarXiv preprint arXiv:2001.07387

The phenomenon of molecular binding, where two molecules, referred to as a receptor and a ligand, bind together to form a ligand-receptor complex, is ubiquitous in biology and essential for the accurate functioning of all life-sustaining processes. The probability of a single receptor forming a complex with any one of L surrounding ligand molecules at thermal equilibrium can be derived from a partition function obtained from the Gibbs-Boltzmann distribution. We extend this approach to a system consisting of R receptors and L ligands to derive the probability density function p(r;R,L) to find r bound receptor-ligand complexes at thermal equilibrium. This extension allows us to illustrate two aspects of this problem which are not apparent in the single receptor problem, namely, a) a symmetry to be expected in the equilibrium distribution of the number of bound complexes under exchange of R and L and b) the number of bound complexes obtained from chemical kinetic equations has an exact correspondence to the maximum probable value of r from the expression for p(r;R,L). We derive the number fluctuations of r and present a practically relevant molecular sensing application that benefits from the knowledge of p(r;R,L).