Membrane Lateral Mobility Obstructed by Polymer-Tethered Lipids Studied at the Single Molecule Level
Obstructed long-range lateral diffusion of phospholipids (TRITC-DHPE) and membrane proteins (bacteriorhodopsin) in a planar polymer-tethered 1-stearoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine bilayer is studied using wide-field single molecule fluorescence microscopy. The obstacles are well-controlled concentrations of hydrophobic lipid-mimicking dioctadecylamine moieties in the polymer-exposed monolayer of the model membrane. Diffusion of both types of tracer molecules is well described by a percolating system with different percolation thresholds for lipids and proteins. Data analysis using a free area model of obstructed lipid diffusion indicates that phospholipids and tethered lipids interact via hard-core repulsion. A comparison to Monte Carlo lattice calculations reveals that tethered lipids act as immobile obstacles, are randomly distributed, and do not self-assemble into large-scale aggregates for low to moderate tethering concentrations. A procedure is presented to identify anomalous subdiffusion from tracking data at a single time lag. From the analysis of the cumulative distribution function of the square displacements, it was found that TRITC-DHPE and W80i show normal diffusion at lower concentrations of tethered lipids and anomalous diffusion at higher ones. This study may help improve our understanding of how lipids and proteins in biomembranes may be obstructed by very small obstacles comprising only one or very few molecules.