Indexed on: 16 May '06Published on: 16 May '06Published in: Chemistry and Physics of Lipids
The complex and dynamic architecture of biological membranes comprises of various heterogeneities, some of which may include lipid-based and/or protein-based microdomains called "rafts". Due to interactions among membrane components, several types of domains can form with different characteristics and mechanisms of formation. Model membranes, such as giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs), provide a key system to study lipid-lipid and lipid-protein interactions, which are potentially relevant to raft formation, by (single-molecule) optical microscopy. Here, we review studies of combined confocal imaging and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) on lipid dynamics and organization in domains assembled in GUVs, prepared from various lipid mixtures, which are relevant to the problem of raft formation. Finally, we summarize the results on lipid-protein interactions, which govern the targeting of several putative raft- and non-raft-associated membrane proteins to domain-exhibiting GUVs.