Send to

Choose Destination
Biophys J. 2003 Jan;84(1):408-18.

Measuring distances in supported bilayers by fluorescence interference-contrast microscopy: polymer supports and SNARE proteins.

Author information

Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22908-0736, USA.


Fluorescence interference-contrast (FLIC) microscopy is a powerful new technique to measure vertical distances from reflective surfaces. A pattern of varying intensity is created by constructive and destructive interference of the incoming and reflected light at the surface of an oxidized silicon chip. Different levels of this pattern are probed by manufacturing silicon chips with terraces of oxide layers of different heights. Fluorescence collected from membranes that are deposited on these terraces is then used to measure the distance of the fluorescent probes from the silicon oxide surface. Here, we applied the method to measure the distance between supported lipid bilayers and the surface of oxidized silicon chips. For plain fluid phosphatidylcholine bilayers, this distance was 1.7 +/- 1.0 nm. The cleft distance was increased to 3.9 +/- 0.9 nm in bilayers that were supported on a 3400-Da polyethylene glycol cushion. This distance is close to the Flory distance (4.8 nm) that would be expected for a grafted random coil of this polymer. In a second application, the distance of a membrane-bound protein from the membrane surface was measured. The integral membrane protein syntaxin1A/SNAP25 (t-SNARE) was reconstituted into tethered polymer-supported bilayers. A soluble form of the green fluorescent protein/vesicle-associated membrane protein (GFP-VAMP) was bound to the reconstituted t-SNAREs. The distance of the GFP from the membrane surface was 16.5 +/- 2.8 nm, indicating an upright orientation of the rod-shaped t-SNARE/v-SNARE complex from the membrane surface.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center