Phase Separation of Lipid Membranes Analyzed with High-Resolution Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry

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Science  29 Sep 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5795, pp. 1948-1951
DOI: 10.1126/science.1130279

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Lateral variations in membrane composition are postulated to play a central role in many cellular events, but it has been difficult to probe membrane composition and organization on length scales of tens to hundreds of nanometers. We present a high-resolution imaging secondary ion mass spectrometry technique to reveal the lipid distribution within a phase-separated membrane with a lateral resolution of ∼100 nanometers. Quantitative information about the chemical composition within small lipid domains was obtained with the use of isotopic labels to identify each molecular species. Composition variations were detected within some domains.

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