Dynamic label-free imaging of lipid nanodomains
The nanodomain lifetimes we measure are on a similar order to the kinetics reported for many membrane-signaling processes.
Lipid rafts are submicron proteolipid domains thought to be responsible for membrane trafficking and signaling. Their small size and transient nature put an understanding of their dynamics beyond the reach of existing techniques, leading to much contention as to their exact role. Here, we exploit the differences in light scattering from lipid bilayer phases to achieve dynamic imaging of nanoscopic lipid domains without any labels. Using phase-separated droplet interface bilayers we resolve the diffusion of domains as small as 50 nm in radius and observe nanodomain formation, destruction, and dynamic coalescence with a domain lifetime of 220 ± 60 ms. Domain dynamics on this timescale suggests an important role in modulating membrane protein function.