Fluidity of the surface of cultured muscle fibers: Rapid lateral diffusion of marked surface antigens

Michael Edidin, Douglas Fambroügh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Fluorescent antibody fragments of anti-muscle plasma membrane antibody bound as small fluorescent spots when applied by micropipetting to cultured myotubes. The spots were observed to enlarge with time. The rate of enlargement of fluorescent spots was greater when fragments were applied than when divalent antibody was used. It was also greater at 23°-25°C than at 0°-4°C. With glutaraldehyde-fixed cells no increase in the size of the spots was seen. The observations are consistent with the spread of fluorescent spots due to diffusion of surface protein antigens within the plane of a fluid membrane. From measurements of spot size against time, a diffusion constant of 1-3 × 10-9 cm2 s-1 can be calculated for muscle plasma membrane proteins of mol wt approximately 200,000. This value is consistent with other observations on the diffusion of surface antigens and of labeled lipid molecules in synthetic and natural membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-37
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 1973


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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