Light Microscopy Beyond the Wavelength Limit: Methods for Characterizing Cell Surface Membranes

Michael Edidin, Anne K. Kenworthy, Levi Gheber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cell surface mediates the flow of information and metabolites between a cell and its environment. We are interested in understanding the lateral organization of the surface, as part of our program in understanding its function. The model of lateral organization of cell surface membranes is evolving from one which emphasizes mobility and autonomy of membrane constituent molecules, to another which emphasizes the lateral concentration of membrane proteins and lipids into patches and membrane microdomains. Indirect evidence suggests that diameters of these patches and microdomains are often ≤ a wavelength of visible light, and so cannot be readily resolved by conventional light microscopy. We have developed two complementary techniques for detecting patches and microdomains on the nm scale: image fluorescence resonance energy transfer, FRET, and near-field scanning optical microscopy, NSOM. The first of these techniques detects proximity of membrane proteins and lipids on a scale of a few nm in terms of the interactions of donor and acceptor fluorophores.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1018-1019
Number of pages2
JournalMicroscopy and Microanalysis
StatePublished - 1 Jul 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation


Dive into the research topics of 'Light Microscopy Beyond the Wavelength Limit: Methods for Characterizing Cell Surface Membranes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this