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Exp Mol Pathol. 2007 Apr;82(2):147-55. Epub 2006 Dec 22.

'True' single-molecule molecule observations by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and two-color fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy.

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  • 1Medical University of Graz, Department of Internal Medicine, Riesstrasse 58a/5, A-8047 Graz, Austria.


Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and two-color fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy (FCCS) are a measure of fluctuations of detected light as a fluorescence molecule diffuses through a femtoliter detection volume caused by a tightly focused laser and confocal optics. Fluorescence from a single molecule can easily be distinguished from the slight background associated with a femtoliter of solvent. At a solution concentration of about 1 nM, the probability that there is an analyte molecule in the probe volume is less than one. Although fluorescence from individual molecules is collected, the data are analyzed by autocorrelation or two-color cross-correlation functions that are the average of thousands of molecules. Properties of single molecules are not obtained. I have been working on problems and opportunities associated with very dilute solutions. The molecule in the confocal probe volume is most probably the molecule that just diffused out, turned around, and diffused back in, i.e., reentered. For the first time, some theoretical results of the novel theory of the meaningful time are presented that enable study of just one single molecule over extended periods of times without immobilization or hydrodynamic focusing. Reentries that may also be called reoccurrences or encounters of a single molecule are significant because during measurement times they give rise to fluctuation phenomena such as molecule number fluctuations. Likewise, four criteria have been developed that can be used to verify that there is only one "selfsame" molecule in the laser probe volume during the experiment: (Földes-Papp, Z., 2006. What it means to measure a single molecule in a solution by fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy. Exp. Mol. Pathol. 80 (3) 209-218).

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