Attractive membrane domains control lateral diffusion

Martin B. Forstner, Douglas S. Martin, Florian Rückerl, Josef A. Käs, Carsten Selle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Lipid membranes play a fundamental role in vital cellular functions such as signal transduction. Many of these processes rely on lateral diffusion within the membrane, generally a complex fluid containing ordered microdomains. However, little attention has been paid to the alterations in transport dynamics of a diffusing species caused by long-range interactions with membrane domains. In this paper, we address the effect of such interactions on diffusive transport by studying lateral diffusion in a phase-separated Langmuir phospholipid monolayer via single-particle tracking. We find that attractive dipole-dipole interactions between condensed phase domains and diffusing probe beads lead to transient confinement at the phase boundaries, causing a transition from two- to one-dimensional diffusion. Using Brownian dynamics simulations, the long-term diffusion constant for such a system is found to have a sensitive, Boltzmann-like, dependence on the interaction strength. In addition, this interaction strength is shown to be a strong function of the ratio of domain to particle size. As similar interactions are expected in biological membranes, the modulation of diffusive transport dynamics by varying interaction strength and/or domain size may offer cells selective spatial and temporal control over signaling processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number051906
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 9 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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