Author(s): Schreurs S, Kluba M, Meuvis J, Engelborghs Y
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Abstract Lifetimes of fluorescent states and their fluorescence intensities are strictly coupled and very sensitive to the environment of the fluorophores. The advantage of measuring lifetimes, next to intensities, comes from the fact that it can reveal heterogeneity and dynamic properties of this environment. In this way lifetime analysis can be used to characterize static and dynamic conformational properties and heterogeneity of fluorescent groups in different areas of a protein and as a function of time for an evolving protein. The phenomena that determine the lifetime of a label are its intrinsic properties, dynamic quenching by neighboring groups, exposure to the solvent, as well as Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) between different groups. The basic principles of these fluorescence phenomena can be found extensively described in the excellent book of Lakowicz (Principles of fluorescence spectroscopy, 3rd edn. Springer, New York, 2006). The fluorescent groups involved are either natural amino acid side chains like tryptophan (Trp) or tyrosine (Tyr), or fluorescent labels covalently engineered into the protein. Even a single fluorescent group can show indications of heterogeneity in the local environment. If several natural fluorescent groups are present, the properties of the individual groups can be separated using site-directed mutagenesis, and additivity of their contributions can be analyzed (Engelborghs, Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc 57(11):2255-2270, 2001). If no fluorescent group is naturally present, site-directed mutagenesis can be used to introduce either a fluorescent amino acid or a cysteine allowing chemical labeling.
This article was published in Methods Mol Biol
and referenced in Biochemistry & Analytical Biochemistry