Single-particle tracking: models of directed transport

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Single-particle tracking techniques make it possible to measure motion of individual particles on the cell surface. In these experiments, individual trajectories are observed, so the data analysis must take into account the randomness of individual random walks. Methods of data analysis are discussed for models combining diffusion and directed motion. In the uniform flow model, a tracer simultaneously diffuses and undergoes directed motion. In the conveyor belt model, a tracer binds and unbinds to a uniform conveyor belt moving with constant velocity. If a tracer is bound, it moves at the velocity of the conveyor belt; if it is unbound, it diffuses freely. Trajectories are analyzed using parameters that measure the extent and asymmetry of the trajectory. A method of assessing the usefulness of such parameters is presented, and pitfalls in data analysis are discussed. Joint probability distributions of pairs of extent and asymmetry parameters are obtained for a pure random walk. These distributions can be used to show that a trajectory is not likely to have resulted from a pure random walk. © 1994, The Biophysical Society. All rights reserved.




Saxton, M. J. (1994). Single-particle tracking: models of directed transport. Biophysical Journal, 67(5), 2110–2119.

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