Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching Analysis of the Diffusional Mobility of Plasma Membrane Proteins: HER3 Mobility in Breast Cancer Cell Membranes

  • Mitul Sarkar
  • John G. Koland
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1376)


The fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) method is a straightforward means of assessing the diffusional mobility of membrane-associated proteins that is readily performed with current confocal microscopy instrumentation. We describe here the specific application of the FRAP method in characterizing the lateral diffusion of genetically encoded green fluorescence protein (GFP)-tagged plasma membrane receptor proteins. The method is exemplified in an examination of whether the previously observed segregation of the mammalian HER3 receptor protein in discrete plasma membrane microdomains results from its physical interaction with cellular entities that restrict its mobility. Our FRAP measurements of the diffusional mobility of GFP-tagged HER3 reporters expressed in MCF7 cultured breast cancer cells showed that despite the observed segregation of HER3 receptors within plasma membrane microdomains their diffusion on the macroscopic scale is not spatially restricted. Thus, in FRAP analyses of various HER3 reporters a near-complete recovery of fluorescence after photobleaching was observed, indicating that HER3 receptors are not immobilized by long-lived physical interactions with intracellular species. An examination of HER3 proteins with varying intracellular domain sequence truncations also indicated that a proposed formation of oligomeric HER3 networks, mediated by physical interactions involving specific HER3 intracellular domain sequences, either does not occur or does not significantly reduce HER3 mobility on the macroscopic scale.

Key words

HER/ErbB receptor Membrane microdomain diffusion Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) 



The authors wish to acknowledge the University of Iowa Central Microscopy Research Facility for their provision of fluorescence confocal microscopy instrumentation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitul Sarkar
    • 1
  • John G. Koland
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyThe University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine51 Newton RoadUSA

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