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Biophys J. 2013 Nov 19;105(10):2343-54. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2013.09.049.

Distinct stages of stimulated FcεRI receptor clustering and immobilization are identified through superresolution imaging.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Field of Biophysics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.


Recent advances in fluorescence localization microscopy have made it possible to image chemically fixed and living cells at 20 nm lateral resolution. We apply this methodology to simultaneously record receptor organization and dynamics on the ventral surface of live RBL-2H3 mast cells undergoing antigen-mediated signaling. Cross-linking of IgE bound to FcεRI by multivalent antigen initiates mast cell activation, which leads to inflammatory responses physiologically. We quantify receptor organization and dynamics as cells are stimulated at room temperature (22°C). Within 2 min of antigen addition, receptor diffusion coefficients decrease by an order of magnitude, and single-particle trajectories are confined. Within 5 min of antigen addition, receptors organize into clusters containing ∼100 receptors with average radii of ∼70 nm. By comparing simultaneous measurements of clustering and mobility, we determine that there are two distinct stages of receptor clustering. In the first stage, which precedes stimulated Ca(2+) mobilization, receptors slow dramatically but are not tightly clustered. In the second stage, receptors are tightly packed and confined. We find that stimulation-dependent changes in both receptor clustering and mobility can be reversed by displacing multivalent antigen with monovalent ligands, and that these changes can be modulated through enrichment or reduction in cellular cholesterol levels.

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