Nanoscale distinction of membrane patches – a TERS study of Halobacterium salinarum



The structural organization of cellular membranes has an essential influence on their functionality. The membrane surfaces currently are considered to consist of various distinct patches, which play an important role in many processes, however, not all parameters such as size and distribution are fully determined. In this study, purple membrane (PM) patches isolated from Halobacterium salinarum were investigated in a first step using TERS (tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy). The characteristic Raman modes of the resonantly enhanced component of the purple membrane lattice, the retinal moiety of bacteriorhodopsin, were found to be suitable as PM markers. In a subsequent experiment a single Halobacterium salinarum was investigated with TERS. By means of the PM marker bands it was feasible to identify and localize PM patches on the bacterial surface. The size of these areas was determined to be a few hundred nanometers. (© 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)