Protein diffusion in lipid membranes is a key aspect of many cellular signaling processes. To quantitatively describe protein diffusion in membranes, several competing theoretical models have been proposed. Among these, the Saffman-Delbrück model is the most famous. This model predicts a logarithmic dependence of a protein's diffusion coefficient on its inverse hydrodynamic radius (D ∝ ln 1/R) for small radius values. For large radius values, it converges toward a D ∝ 1/R scaling. Recently, however, experimental data indicate a Stokes-Einstein-like behavior (D ∝ 1/R) of membrane protein diffusion at small protein radii. In this study, we investigate protein diffusion in black lipid membranes using dual-focus fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. This technique yields highly accurate diffusion coefficients for lipid and protein diffusion in membranes. We find that despite its simplicity, the Saffman-Delbrück model is able to describe protein diffusion extremely well and a Stokes-Einstein-like behavior can be ruled out.
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