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The cell surface is neither flat nor smooth but surface topography is ignored in current models of the plasma membrane. Using high resolution topographical maps of live cells, we and our collaborators have demonstrated that apparent topographical trapping is easily mistaken for elaborate membrane model features like hop diffusion and transient anchorage. Even binding could be the result of apparent topographical trapping when single particle tracks are interpreted in 2D although the molecules are moving in 3D. We are now together with collaborators at CBA at UU developing a method to analyse diffusion coefficients on non-flat surfaces.
High resolution hopping ion conductance microscopy image of part of a live FRSK cell. The figure shows that cell topography is an important factor when determining the diffusion coefficients of membrane molecules.
Adler J, Novak P, Shevchuk AI, Korchev YE, Parmryd I. (2010) High resolution plasma membrane topography imaging for correct interpretation of single particle tracks. Nat. Methods 7, 170-171.
Parmryd I, Önfelt B. (2013) Consequences of membrane topography. FEBS J. 280, 2775-2784