Imaging of molecular surface dynamics in brain slices using single-particle tracking

Nat Commun. 2014;5:3024. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4024.


Organization of signalling molecules in biological membranes is crucial for cellular communication. Many receptors, ion channels and cell adhesion molecules are associated with proteins important for their trafficking, surface localization or function. These complexes are embedded in a lipid environment of varying composition. Binding affinities and stoichiometry of such complexes were so far experimentally accessible only in isolated systems or monolayers of cell culture. Visualization of molecular dynamics within signalling complexes and their correlation to specialized membrane compartments demand high temporal and spatial resolution and has been difficult to demonstrate in complex tissue like brain slices. Here we demonstrate the feasibility of single-particle tracking (SPT) in organotypic brain slices to measure molecular dynamics of lipids and transmembrane proteins in correlation to synaptic membrane compartments. This method will provide important information about the dynamics and organization of surface molecules in the complex environment of neuronal networks within brain slices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Molecular Structure
  • Quantum Dots
  • Rats


  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Proteins