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Annu Rev Phys Chem. 2011;62:417-36. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physchem-032210-103402.

Detecting nanodomains in living cell membrane by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy.

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Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy, INSERM UMR-S 631, and Université de la Méditerranée, F-13288 Marseille cedex 09, France.


Cell membranes actively participate in numerous cellular functions. Inasmuch as bioactivities of cell membranes are known to depend crucially on their lateral organization, much effort has been focused on deciphering this organization on different length scales. Within this context, the concept of lipid rafts has been intensively discussed over recent years. In line with its ability to measure diffusion parameters with great precision, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) measurements have been made in association with innovative experimental strategies to monitor modes of molecular lateral diffusion within the plasma membrane of living cells. These investigations have allowed significant progress in the characterization of the cell membrane lateral organization at the suboptical level and have provided compelling evidence for the in vivo existence of raft nanodomains. We review these FCS-based studies and the characteristic structural features of raft nanodomains. We also discuss the findings in regards to the current view of lipid rafts as a general membrane-organizing principle.

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