Analysis of lateral diffusion from a spherical cell surface to a tubular projection

D. A. Berk, A. Clark, R. M. Hochmuth

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    Cell surfaces are often heterogeneous with respect to the lateral distribution and mobility of membrane components. Because lateral mobility is related to membrane structure, measurement of a particular component's local diffusion coefficient within a distinct surface region provides useful information about the formation and maintenance of that region. Many structurally interesting cell surface features can be described as narrow tubular projections from the body of the cell. In a companion paper, we consider the thin 'tethers' that can be mechanically drawn from the red blood cell membrane, and we measure the transport of fluorescent integral proteins from the surface of the cell body onto the tether. In this paper we present an analysis to describe the surface diffusion of membrane particles from a spherical shell onto a thin cylindrical process. Provision is made for different rates of diffusion within the two morphologically distinct regions. The relative role of each region in controlling the diffusive flux between regions is determined primarily by a single dimensionless parameter. This parameter incorporates the ratio of the two diffusion coefficients as well as the dimensions of each region. The analysis can be applied to a fluorescence photobleaching experiment in which the extended process is bleached. If the dimensions of the spherical cell body and the cylindrical extension are known, then the diffusion coefficients of both regions can be determined from the experimental fluorescence recovery curve.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages7
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1992


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