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Biophys J. Mar 1996; 70(3): 1250–1262.
PMCID: PMC1225051

Anomalous diffusion due to binding: a Monte Carlo study.


In classical diffusion, the mean-square displacement increases linearly with time. But in the presence of obstacles or binding sites, anomalous diffusion may occur, in which the mean-square displacement is proportional to a nonintegral power of time for some or all times. Anomalous diffusion is discussed for various models of binding, including an obstruction/binding model in which immobile membrane proteins are represented by obstacles that bind diffusing particles in nearest-neighbor sites. The classification of binding models is considered, including the distinction between valley and mountain models and the distinction between singular and nonsingular distributions of binding energies. Anomalous diffusion is sensitive to the initial conditions of the measurement. In valley models, diffusion is anomalous if the diffusing particles start at random positions but normal if the particles start at thermal equilibrium positions. Thermal equilibration leads to normal diffusion, or to diffusion as normal as the obstacles allow.

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