Analysis of α3 GlyR single particle tracking in the cell membrane

Kristof Notelaers, Susana Rocha, Rik Paesen, Nick Smisdom, Ben De Clercq, Jochen C. Meier, Jean-Michel Rigo, Johan Hofkens, Marcel Ameloot (see publication in Journal )


Single particle tracking (SPT) of transmembrane receptors in the plasma membrane often reveals heterogeneous diffusion. A thorough interpretation of the displacements requires an extensive analysis suited for discrimination of different motion types present in the data. Here the diffusion pattern of the homomeric α3-containing glycine receptor (GlyR) is analyzed in the membrane of HEK 293 cells. More specifically, the influence of the α3 RNA splice variants α3K and α3L on lateral membrane diffusion of the receptor is revealed in detail. Using a combination of ensemble and local SPT analysis, free and anomalous diffusion parameters are determined. The GlyR α3 free diffusion coefficient is found to be 0.13 ± 0.01 μm2/s and both receptor variants display confined motion. The confinement probability level and residence time are significantly elevated for the α3L variant compared to the α3K variant. Furthermore, for the α3L GlyR, the presence of directed motion was also established, with a velocity matching that of saltatory vesicular transport. These findings reveal that α3 GlyRs are prone to different types of anomalous diffusion and reinforce the role of RNA splicing in determining lateral membrane trafficking.