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Abstract Cholesterol constitutes approximately 30-40% of the mammalian plasma membrane — a larger fraction than any other single component. It is a major player in numerous signalling processes as well as molecular membrane architecture. However, our knowledge on dynamics of cholesterol in the plasma membrane is limited which restricts our understanding of the mechanisms regulating its involvement in cell signalling. Here, advanced fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy approaches were applied on in vitro (model membranes) and in vivo (live cells and embryos) membranes to systematically study the nanoscale dynamics of cholesterol in biological membranes. The results show that cholesterol diffuses faster than phospholipids in live membranes, but not in model membranes. The data indicate that diffusion of cholesterol and phospholipids is not correlated with membrane domain partitioning. Instead, our data show that the fast diffusion of cholesterol is due to its nanoscale interactions and localization in the membrane.

Original publication




Journal article




Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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