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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2009 Jun 7;11(21):4410-8. doi: 10.1039/b822494c. Epub 2009 Mar 31.

Fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy of a pH-sensitive ratiometric dye for molecular proton exchange studies.

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  • 1Department of Applied Physics, Experimental Biomolecular Physics, Royal Institute of Technology, SE-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden.


Fluorescence fluctuation analysis of individual pH-sensitive fluorophores has recently proven to be a useful approach for biomolecular proton exchange studies. In this work, dual-color fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy (FCCS) is demonstrated on a ratiometric pH-sensitive dye, for which both the excitation and emission spectra shift as a function of pH. In the FCCS measurements, the fluorescence signal from the predominant emission wavelength range of the protonated form of the dye is cross-correlated with that of the deprotonated form. Two lasers are used alternatingly to excite predominantly the protonated and the deprotonated form of the dye. The alternating excitation modulation scheme is combined with detection gating, and is based on a recently developed concept that allows extraction of correlation data for all correlation times regardless of the chosen modulation period. The scheme can thus be applied without concern for the time-scales of the molecular dynamic processes to be studied. By this combined discrimination based on both excitation and emission, spectral cross-talk is dramatically reduced and a very distinct and unambiguous anticorrelation can be recorded in the correlation curves as a consequence of the proton exchange. The strong discrimination power makes the approach applicable also to ratiometric dyes with less pronounced spectral shifts. It should also be useful in combination with ratiometric dyes sensitive to other ambient conditions and ions, such as the biologically very important calcium ion.

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