Sphingomyelin (SM)-rich membrane nano-domains, called lipid rafts, have attracted the interest of researchers due to their potential involvement in the formation of signaling platform. Although there are many studies on lipid rafts, the direct observation of lipid rafts is still challenging owing to two critical reasons. One is the lack of an appropriate fluorescent probe mimicking the native behavior of raft lipids; fluorescent labeling often alters the intrinsic disposition of raft lipids. The other is their spatio-temporal stability; the size of lipid rafts is much smaller than the optical resolution of usual microscopy and their lifetime is much shorter than image acquisition duration. These issues are hampering the visualization of lipid rafts. Our review highlights the recent advances in microscopic techniques to visualize the partition and dynamic behavior of SMs, disclosing the detailed structure of lipid rafts. Moreover, we will elucidate the importance of SM-SM interactions in the stabilization of signaling platforms as lipid rafts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Organic Chemistry
- Cell Biology