Structure and cholesterol dynamics of caveolae/raft and nonraft plasma membrane domains. Academic Article uri icon


  • Despite recognition that the plasma membrane (PM) is comprised of lipid raft domains that are key organizing sites of multiple signaling pathways and other cell functions, limited information is available regarding the structure and function in sterol dynamics of these microdomains. To begin to resolve these issues, MDCK membranes were subfractionated by three different techniques to produce (i) detergent-resistant membranes (DRM) and detergent-soluble membranes (DSM), (ii) nondetergent caveolae/rafts (NDCR), and (iii) nondetergent, affinity-purified caveolae/rafts (ACR) and noncaveolae/nonrafts (NR). ACR exhibited the least cross contamination with other PM domains or intracellular membranes, in marked contrast to DRM that contained the highest level of cross contaminants. Spectral properties of dehydroergosterol (DHE), a naturally occurring fluorescent sterol, showed that ACR, NDCR, and NR did not contain crystalline sterol, consistent with the lack of crystalline sterol in PM of intact cells. In contrast, DRM contained significant levels of crystalline sterol. Fluorescence polarization of membrane probes showed that ACR were the least fluid and had the highest transbilayer fluidity gradient, the most liquid ordered phase, and the sterol dynamics most responsive to sterol carrier protein-2 (SCP-2). In contrast, DRM had structural properties similar to those of NR, anomalous (very fast) spontaneous sterol dynamics, and sterol dynamics that were unresponsive to SCP-2. Differences between the structural and functional properties of DRM and those of the nondetergent preparations (ACR and NDCR) were not due to the presence of detergent. A nondetergent, affinity-purified (ACR) lipid domain fraction isolated from MDCK cells for the first time revealed unique structural (noncrystalline sterol, liquid-ordered, high transbilayer fluidity gradient) and functional (cholesterol dynamics) properties of lipid rafts as compared to nonrafts (NR). In summary, this study showed membrane microdomains (rafts/caveolae) isolated by three different methodologies have unique structural, functional, and organizational characteristics.

published proceedings

  • Biochemistry

author list (cited authors)

  • Gallegos, A. M., Storey, S. M., Kier, A. B., Schroeder, F., & Ball, J. M.

citation count

  • 35

complete list of authors

  • Gallegos, Adalberto M||Storey, Stephen M||Kier, Ann B||Schroeder, Friedhelm||Ball, Judith M

publication date

  • October 2006