Distribution of a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein at the apical surface of MDCK cells examined at a resolution of <100 Å using imaging fluorescence resonance energy transfer

A. K. Kenworthy, M. Edidin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Membrane microdomains ('lipid rafts') enriched in glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins, glycosphingolipids, and cholesterol have been implicated in events ranging from membrane trafficking to signal transduction. Although there is biochemical evidence for such membrane microdomains, they have not been visualized by light or electron microscopy. To probe for microdomains enriched in GPI-anchored proteins in intact cell membranes, we used a novel form of digital microscopy, imaging fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), which extends the resolution of fluorescence microscopy to the molecular level (<100 Å). We detected significant energy transfer between donor- and acceptor-labeled antibodies against the GPI-anchored protein 5' nucleotidase (5' NT) at the apical membrane of MDCK cells. The efficiency of energy transfer correlated strongly with the surface density of the acceptor-labeled antibody. The FRET data conformed to theoretical predictions for two-dimensional FRET between randomly distributed molecules and were inconsistent with a model in which 5' NT is constitutively clustered. Though we cannot completely exclude the possibility that some 5' NT is in clusters, the data imply that most 5' NT molecules are randomly distributed across the apical surface of MDCK cells. These findings constrain current models for lipid rafts and the membrane organization of GPI-anchored proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-84
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Volume142
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 13 1998

Keywords

  • 5' nucleotidase
  • Cell membrane
  • Cell polarity
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Membrane lipids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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