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Direct observation of lipid domains in free-standing bilayers using two-photon excitation fluorescence microscopy

  • Author(s): Bagatolli, LA
  • Gratton, E
  • et al.

The direct observation of temperature-dependent lipid phase equilibria, using two-photon excitation fluorescence microscopy on giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) composed of different lipid mixtures, provides novel information about the physical characteristics of lipid domain coexistence. Physical characteristics such as the shape, size, and time evolution of different lipid domains are not directly accessible from the traditional experimental approaches that employ either small and large unilamellar vesicles or multilamellar vesicles. In this review article, we address the most relevant findings reported from our laboratory regarding the direct observation of lipid domain coexistence at the level of single vesicles in artificial and natural lipid mixtures. In addition, key points concerning our experimental approach will be discussed. The unique advantages of the fluorescent probe 6-dodecanoyl-2-dimethylaminonaphthalene (LAURDAN) under two-photon excitation fluorescence microscopy is particularly addressed, especially, the possibility of obtaining information on the phase state of different lipid domains directly from the fluorescent images. © 2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation.

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