Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) can be used to measure kinetic properties of single molecules in drops of solution or in cells. Here we report on FCS measurements of tetramethylrhodamine (TMR)-dextran (10 kDa) in dendrites of cultured mitral cells of Xenopus laevis tadpoles. To interpret such measurements correctly, the plasma membrane as a boundary of diffusion has to be taken into account. We show that the fluorescence data recorded from dendrites are best described by a model of anisotropic diffusion. As compared to diffusion in water, diffusion of the 10-kDa TMR-dextran along the dendrite is slowed down by a factor 1.1-2.1, whereas diffusion in lateral direction is 10-100 times slower. The dense intradendritic network of microtubules oriented parallel to the dendrite is discussed as a possible basis for the observed anisotropy. In somata, diffusion was found to be isotropic in three dimensions and 1.2-2.6 times slower than in water.
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