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Biophys J. 2007 Jan 1;92(1):343-55. Epub 2006 Oct 13.

Membrane order and molecular dynamics associated with IgE receptor cross-linking in mast cells.

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Department of Chemistry, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


Cholesterol-rich microdomains (or "lipid rafts") within the plasma membrane have been hypothesized to exist in a liquid-ordered phase and play functionally important roles in cell signaling; however, these microdomains defy detection using conventional imaging. To visualize domains and relate their nanostructure and dynamics to mast cell signaling, we use two-photon (760 nm and 960 nm) fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy and fluorescence polarization anisotropy imaging, with comparative one-photon anisotropy imaging and single-point lifetime and anisotropy decay measurements. The inherent sensitivity of ultrafast excited-state dynamics and rotational diffusion to the immediate surroundings of a fluorophore allows for real-time monitoring of membrane structure and organization. When the high affinity receptor for IgE (FcepsilonRI) is extensively cross-linked with anti-IgE, molecules associated with cholesterol-rich microdomains (e.g., saturated lipids (the lipid analog diI-C(18) or glycosphingolipids)) and lipid-anchored proteins coredistribute with cross-linked IgE-FcepsilonRI. We find an enhancement in fluorescence lifetime and anisotropy of diI-C(18) and Alexa 488-labeled IgE-FcepsilonRI in the domains where these molecules colocalize. Our results suggest that fluorescence lifetime and, particularly, anisotropy permit us to correlate the recruitment of lipid molecules into more ordered domains that serve as platforms for IgE-mediated signaling.

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