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Biophys J. 1993 Jun; 64(6): 1766–1780.
PMCID: PMC1262511

Lateral diffusion in an archipelago. Single-particle diffusion.


Several laboratories have measured lateral diffusion of single particles on the cell surface, and these measurements may reveal an otherwise inaccessible level of submicroscopic organization of cell membranes. Pitfalls in the interpretation of these experiments are analyzed. Random walks in unobstructed systems show structure that could be interpreted as free diffusion, obstructed diffusion, directed motion, or trapping in finite domains. To interpret observed trajectories correctly, one must consider not only the trajectories themselves but also the probabilities of occurrence of various trajectories. Measures of the asymmetry of obstructed and unobstructed random walks are calculated, and probabilities are evaluated for random trajectories that resemble either directed motion or diffusion in a bounded region.

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Selected References

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