Homo-FRET imaging highlights the nanoscale organization of cell surface molecules

Methods Mol Biol. 2015;1251:151-73. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2080-8_9.


Several models have been proposed to understand the structure and organization of the plasma membrane in living cells. Predicated on equilibrium thermodynamic principles, the fluid-mosaic model of Singer and Nicholson and the model of lipid domains (or membrane rafts) are dominant models, which account for a fluid bilayer and functional lateral heterogeneity of membrane components, respectively. However, the constituents of the membrane and its composition are not maintained by equilibrium mechanisms. Indeed, the living cell membrane is a steady state of a number of active processes, namely, exocytosis, lipid synthesis and transbilayer flip-flop, and endocytosis. In this active milieu, many lipid constituents of the cell membrane exhibit a nanoscale organization that is also at odds with passive models based on chemical equilibrium. Here we provide a detailed description of microscopy and cell biological methods that have served to provide valuable information regarding the nature of nanoscale organization of lipid components in a living cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Fluorescence Polarization / methods*
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer / methods*
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nanotechnology / methods*


  • Lipid Bilayers