Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Details of molecular membrane dynamics in living cells such as lipid-protein interactions or the incorporation of molecules into lipid "rafts" are often hidden to the observer because of the limited spatial resolution of conventional far-field optical microscopy. Fortunately, the superior spatial resolution of far-field stimulated-emission-depletion (STED) nanoscopy allows gaining new insights. Applying fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) in focal spots continuously tuned down to 30 nm in diameter distinguishes free from anomalous molecular diffusion due to transient binding, as for the diffusion of fluorescent phosphoglycero- and sphingolipid analogs in the plasma membrane of living cells. STED-FCS data recorded at different environmental conditions and on different lipid analogs reveal molecular details of the observed nanoscale trapping. Dependencies on the molecular structure of the lipids point to the distinct connectivity of the various lipids to initiate or assist cellular signaling events, but also outline strong differences to the characteristics of liquid-ordered and disordered phase separation in model membranes. STED-FCS is a highly sensitive and exceptional tool to study the membrane organization by introducing a new class of nanoscale biomolecular studies.

Original publication




Journal article


Methods Enzymol

Publication Date





1 - 38


Diffusion, Fluorescent Dyes, Membrane Microdomains, Spectrometry, Fluorescence