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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2004 Oct;14(5):531-40.

Single-molecule spectroscopic methods.

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Biotec TU Dresden, Tatzberg 47-51, D-01307 Dresden, Germany.


Being praised for the mere fact of enabling the detection of individual fluorophores a dozen years ago, single-molecule techniques nowadays represent standard methods for the elucidation of the structural rearrangements of biologically relevant macromolecules. Single-molecule-sensitive techniques, such as fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, allow real-time access to a multitude of molecular parameters (e.g. diffusion coefficients, concentration and molecular interactions). As a result of various recent advances, this technique shows promise even for intracellular applications. Fluorescence imaging can reveal the spatial localization of fluorophores on nanometer length scales, whereas fluorescence resonance energy transfer supports a wide range of different applications, including real-time monitoring of conformational rearrangements (as in protein folding). Still in their infancy, single-molecule spectroscopic methods thus provide unprecedented insights into basic molecular mechanisms.

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