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Mol Membr Biol. 2003 Jan-Mar;20(1):13-8.

The fence and picket structure of the plasma membrane of live cells as revealed by single molecule techniques (Review).

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Department of Biological Science, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, and Kusumi Membrane Organizer Project, ERATO, Japanese Science and Technology Corporation, Japan.


Models of the organization of the plasma membrane of live cells as discovered through diffusion measurements of integral membrane molecules (transmembrane and GPI-anchored proteins, and lipid) at the single molecule level are discussed. Diffusion of transmembrane protein and, indeed, even lipid is anomalous in that the molecules tend to diffuse freely in limited size compartments, with infrequent intercompartment transitions. This average residency time in a compartment is dependent on the diffusing species and on its state of oligomerization, becoming completely confined to a single compartment upon sufficient oligomerization. This will be of great importance in determining cellular mechanisms for controlling the random diffusive motion of membrane molecules and in understanding signalling processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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