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Dynamics of lipid domain formation: Fluctuation analysis


Scanning-fluctuation correlation spectroscopy was used to detect subresolution organizational fluctuations in the lipid liquid-crystalline phase for single lipid model systems. We used the fluorescent probe Laurdan which is sensitive to the amount of water in the membrane to show that there is a spatial heterogeneity on the scale of few pixels (the size of the pixel is 50 nm). We calculated the pixel variance of the GP function and we found that the variance has a peak at the phase transition for 3 different samples made of pure lipids. The pixel variance has an abrupt change at the phase transition of the membrane and then it slowly decreases at higher temperature. The relatively large variance of the GP indicates that the liquid phase of the membrane is quite heterogeneous even several degrees higher than the phase transition temperature. We interpreted this result as evidence of an underlying microscale structure of the membrane in which water is not uniformly distributed at the micron scale. Imaging of these microstructures shows that the pixels with different GP tend to concentrate in specific domains in the membrane. In the case of single lipid membrane, the statistical and fluctuation analysis of the GP data shows that even such simple lipid systems are capable of generating and maintaining stable structural and organizational heterogeneities.

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