Maria Garcia-Parajo’s group has the first major paper to appear after the summer break with their 31 August publication in PNAS of ‘Direct mapping of nanoscale compositional connectivity on intact cell membranes’.
In their research into the cell membrane, where preorganised components give rise to strategic advantages for protein function and signaling, Maria and her Single Molecule Bionanophotonics team have been looking at lipid rafts – free-floating membrane regions of proteins and lipids – and have now demonstrated their cholesterol-mediated selective connectivity at the nanoscale.
Using single-molecule near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM), the group – together with collaborators from the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands – perturbed the lipid raft nanolandscape and visualised the formation of cholesterol-dependent GM1 nanodomains less than 120nm in size. Subsequent in silico experiments at University of Barcelona and Barcelona´s Co.S.Mo. Labs contributed to the high-resolution data that conclusively demonstrates the existence of raft-based interconnectivity on resting cell membranes.
These findings constitute a step towards a fuller understanding of the activation and clustering of lipid raft constituents, which amplify and strengthen preexisting interactions and mediate signal transduction across the cell membrane.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (PNAS) ranks consistently as one of the top impacting journals in all fields, coming second in ScienceWatch’s Top Ten Most-Cited journals of 1999-2009.