Conventional approaches for studying receptor-mediated cell signaling, such as the western blot and flow cytometry, are limited in three aspects: 1) The perturbing preparation procedures often alter the molecules from their native state on the cell; 2) Long processing time before the final readout makes it difficult to capture transient signaling events (<1 min); 3) The experimental environments are force-free, therefore unable to visualize mechanical signals in real time. In contrast to these methods in biochemistry and cell biology that are usually population-averaged and non-real-time, here we introduce a novel single-cell based nanotool termed dual biomembrane force probe (dBFP). The dBFP provides precise controls and quantitative readouts in both mechanical and chemical terms, which is particularly suited for juxtacrine signaling and mechanosensing studies. Specifically, the dBFP allows us to analyze dual receptor crosstalk by quantifying the spatiotemporal requirements and functional consequences of the up- and down-stream signaling events. In this work, the utility and power of the dBFP has been demonstrated in four important dual receptor systems that play key roles in immunological synapse formation, shear-dependent thrombus formation, and agonist-driven blood clotting.
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