Single-particle tracking offers a method to interrogate the organization of transmembrane proteins by measuring their mobilities within a cell's plasma membrane. Using this technique, the diffusion characteristics of the Duffy antigen (DARC), glycophorin A, band 3, and GLUT1 were compared under analogous conditions on intact human erythrocyte membranes. Microscopic diffusion coefficients revealed that the vast majority of all four transmembrane proteins exhibit very restricted movement but are not completely immobile. In fact, only 12% of GLUT1 resolved into a highly mobile subpopulation. Macroscopic diffusion coefficients and compartment sizes were also similar for all four proteins, with movements confined to the approximate dimensions of the “corrals” of the cortical spectrin cytoskeleton. Taken together, these data suggest that almost the entire populations of all four transmembrane proteins are immobilized by either the incorporation within large multiprotein complexes or entrapment within the protein network of the cortical spectrin cytoskeleton.
ASJC Scopus subject areas