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Quantitative time domain analysis of lifetime-based Förster resonant energy tranfer measurements with fluorescent proteins: Static random isotropic fluorophore orientation distributions

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journal contribution
posted on 25.06.2020, 15:13 by Yuriy Alexandrov, Dino S Nikolic, Christopher Dunsby, Paul MW French
Förster resonant energy transfer (FRET) measurements are widely used to obtain information about molecular interactions and conformations through the dependence of FRET efficiency on the proximity of donor and acceptor fluorophores. Fluorescence lifetime measurements can provide quantitative analysis of FRET efficiency and interacting population fraction. Many FRET experiments exploit the highly specific labelling of genetically expressed fluorescent proteins, applicable in live cells and organisms. Unfortunately, the typical assumption of fast randomization of fluorophore orientations in the analysis of fluorescence lifetime-based FRET readouts is not valid for fluorescent proteins due to their slow rotational mobility compared to their upper state lifetime. Here, previous analysis of effectively static isotropic distributions of fluorophore dipoles on FRET measurements is incorporated into new software for fitting donor emission decay profiles. Calculated FRET parameters, including molar population fractions, are compared for the analysis of simulated and experimental FRET data under the assumption of static and dynamic fluorophores and the intermediate regimes between fully dynamic and static fluorophores, and mixtures within FRET pairs, is explored. Finally, a method to correct the artefact resulting from fitting the emission from static FRET pairs with isotropic angular distributions to the (incorrect) typically assumed dynamic FRET decay model is presented.