Endothelial cells (ECs) form the inner lining of the blood vasculature and are exposed to shear stress (τ), the tangential component of hemodynamic forces. ECs transduce τ into biochemical signals possibly via EC-membrane perturbations. We have previously used confocal-FRAP on the DiI-stained plasma membranes of confluent cultured bovine aortic ECs (BAECs) to show that τ induces a rapid, spatially heterogeneous, and time-dependent increase in the lateral diffusion of the fluorescent lipoid probe in the BAEC membrane [1]. We now present evidence at the single molecule level that shear stress differentially perturbs membrane domains that are defined by their selective staining by lipoid dyes (DiI) of differing alkyl chain lengths. This study is the first to directly measure perturbation by shear stress of endothelial cell membrane microdomains.

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