G-protein-coupled receptors are important targets for various drugs. After signal transduction, regulatory processes, such as receptor desensitization and internalization, change the lateral receptor mobility. In order to study the lateral diffusion of β2-adrenergic receptors (β2AR) complexed with fluorescently labeled noradrenaline (Alexa-NA) in plasma membranes of A549 cells, trajectories of single receptor-ligand complexes were monitored using single-particle tracking. We found that a fraction of 18% of all β2ARs are constitutively immobile. About 2/3 of the β2ARs moved with a diffusion constant of D2 = 0.03±0.001 μm2/s and about 17% were diffusing five-fold faster (D3 = 0.15±0.02 μm2/s). The mobile receptors moved within restricted domains and also showed a discontinuous diffusion behavior. Analysis of the trajectory lengths revealed two different binding durations with τ1 = 77±1 ms and τ2 = 388±11 ms. Agonistic stimulation of the β2AR-Alexa-NA complexes with 1 μM terbutaline caused immobilization of almost 50% of the receptors within 35 min. Simultaneously, the mean area covered by the mobile receptors decreased significantly. Thus, we demonstrated that agonistic stimulation followed by cell regulatory processes results in a change in β2AR mobility suggesting that different receptor dynamics characterize different receptor states.
Human synovial fluid contains a high concentration of hyaluronan, a high molecular weight glycosaminoglycan that provides viscoelasticity and contributes to joint lubrication. In osteoarthritis synovial fluid, the concentration and molecular weight of hyaluronan decrease, thus impairing shock absorption and lubrication. Consistently, substitution of hyaluronan (viscosupplementation) is a widely used treatment for osteoarthritis. So far, the organization and dynamics of hyaluronan in native human synovial fluid and its action mechanism in viscosupplementation are poorly characterized at the molecular level. Here, we introduce highly sensitive single molecule microscopy to analyze the conformation and interactions of fluorescently labeled hyaluronan molecules in native human synovial fluid. Our findings are consistent with a random coil conformation of hyaluronan in human synovial fluid, and point to specific interactions of hyaluronan molecules with the synovial fluid matrix. Furthermore, single molecule microscopy is capable of detecting the breakdown of the synovial fluid matrix in osteoarthritis. Thus, single molecule microscopy is a useful new method to probe the structure of human synovial fluid and its changes in disease states like osteoarthritis.