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Cytometry. 1999 Jul 1;36(3):176-82.

Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy with single-molecule sensitivity on cell and model membranes.

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Cornell University, School of Applied and Engineering Physics, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


We report on the successful application of fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) to the analysis of single fluorescently labeled lipid analogue molecules diffusing laterally in lipid bilayers, as exemplified by time traces of fluorescence bursts of individual molecules entering and leaving the excitation area. FCS measurements performed on lipid probes in rat basophilic leukemia cell membranes showed deviations from two-dimensional Brownian motion with a single uniform diffusion constant. Giant unilamellar vesicles were employed as model systems to characterize diffusion of fluorescent lipid analogues in both homogeneous and mixed lipid phases with diffusion heterogeneity. Comparing the results of cell membrane diffusion with the findings on the model systems suggests possible explanations for the observations: (a) anomalous subdiffusion in which evanescent attractive interactions with disparate mobile molecules modifies the diffusion statistics; (b) alternatively, probe molecules are localized in microdomains of submicroscopic size, possibly in heterogeneous membrane phases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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