Anomalous subdiffusion in cells and model systems is an active area of research. The main questions are whether diffusion is anomalous or normal, and if it is anomalous, its mechanism. The subject is controversial, especially the hypothesis that crowding causes anomalous subdiffusion. Anomalous subdiffusion measurements would be strengthened by an experimental standard, particularly one able to cross-calibrate the different types of measurements. Criteria for a calibration standard are proposed. First, diffusion must be anomalous over the length and timescales of the different measurements. The length-scale is fundamental; the time scale can be adjusted through the viscosity of the medium. Second, the standard must be theoretically well understood, with a known anomalous subdiffusion exponent, ideally readily tunable. Third, the standard must be simple, reproducible, and independently characterizable (by, for example, electron microscopy for nanostructures). Candidate experimental standards are evaluated, including obstructed lipid bilayers; aqueous systems obstructed by nanopillars; a continuum percolation system in which a prescribed fraction of randomly chosen obstacles in a regular array is ablated; single-file diffusion in pores; transient anomalous subdiffusion due to binding of particles in arrays such as transcription factors in randomized DNA arrays; and computer-generated physical trajectories. © 2012 Biophysical Society.
Saxton, M. J. (2012, December 19). Wanted: A positive control for anomalous subdiffusion. Biophysical Journal. Biophysical Society. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2012.10.038