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Biophys J. 2011 Mar 2;100(5):1242-51. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.12.3738.

FCS diffusion laws in two-phase lipid membranes: determination of domain mean size by experiments and Monte Carlo simulations.

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Institut Fresnel, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Aix-Marseille Université, École Centrale Marseille, Marseille, France.


Many efforts have been undertaken over the last few decades to characterize the diffusion process in model and cellular lipid membranes. One of the techniques developed for this purpose, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), has proved to be a very efficient approach, especially if the analysis is extended to measurements on different spatial scales (referred to as FCS diffusion laws). In this work, we examine the relevance of FCS diffusion laws for probing the behavior of a pure lipid and a lipid mixture at temperatures below, within and above the phase transitions, both experimentally and numerically. The accuracy of the microscopic description of the lipid mixtures found here extends previous work to a more complex model in which the geometry is unknown and the molecular motion is driven only by the thermodynamic parameters of the system itself. For multilamellar vesicles of both pure lipid and lipid mixtures, the FCS diffusion laws recorded at different temperatures exhibit large deviations from pure Brownian motion and reveal the existence of nanodomains. The variation of the mean size of these domains with temperature is in perfect correlation with the enthalpy fluctuation. This study highlights the advantages of using FCS diffusion laws in complex lipid systems to describe their temporal and spatial structure.

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