Cold Induces Micro- and Nano-Scale Reorganization of Lipid Raft Markers at Mounds of T-Cell Membrane Fluctuations

Whether and how cold causes changes in cell-membrane or lipid rafts remain poorly characterized. Using the NSOM/QD and confocal imaging systems, we found that cold caused microscale redistribution of lipid raft markers, GM1 for lipid and CD59 for protein, from the peripheral part of microdomains to the central part on Jurkat T cells, and that cold also induced the nanoscale size-enlargement (1/3- to 2/3-fold) of the nanoclusters of lipid raft markers and even the colocalization of GM1 and CD59 nanoclusters. These findings indicate cold-induced lateral rearrangement/coalescence of raft-related membrane heterogeneity. The cold-induced re-distribution of lipid raft markers under a nearly-natural condition provide clues for their alternations, and help to propose a model in which raft lipids associate themselves or interact with protein components to generate functional membrane heterogeneity in response to stimulus. The data also underscore the possible cold-induced artifacts in early-described cold-related experiments and the detergent-resistance-based analyses of lipid rafts at 4°C, and provide a biophysical explanation for recently-reported cold-induced activation of signaling pathways in T cells. Importantly, our fluorescence-topographic NSOM imaging demonstrated that GM1/CD59 raft markers distributed and re-distributed at mounds but not depressions of T-cell membrane fluctuations. Such mound-top distribution of lipid raft markers or lipid rafts provides spatial advantage for lipid rafts or contact molecules interacting readily with neighboring cells or free molecules.