Spatially Resolved Membrane Transport in a Single Cell Imaged by Second Harmonic Light Scattering

We demonstrate that time-resolved second harmonic (SH) light scattering, when applied as an imaging modality, can be used to spatially resolve the adsorption and transport rates of molecules diffusing across the membrane in a living cell. As a representative example, we measure the passive transport of the amphiphilic ion, malachite green, across the plasma membrane in living human dermal fibroblast cells. Analysis of the time-resolved SH images reveals that membrane regions, which appear to be enduring higher stress, exhibit slower transport rates. It is proposed that this stress-transport relation may be a result of local enrichment of membrane rigidifiers as part of a response to maintain membrane integrity under strain.