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J Mol Biol. 2005 Sep 2;351(5):1123-45.

Measurements of internal distance changes of the 30S ribosome using FRET with multiple donor-acceptor pairs: quantitative spectroscopic methods.

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Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics, Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL 61801, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Mol Biol. 2005 Nov 25;354(2):504.


We present analytical and experimental procedures for determining distance changes within the 30 S subunit of the Escherichia coli ribosome using Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET). We discuss ways to contend with complexities when using FRET to measure distance changes within large multi-subunit macromolecular complexes, such as the ribosome. Complications can arise due to non-stoichiometric labeling of donor and acceptor probes, as well as environmental effects that are specific to each conjugation site. We show how to account for changes in extinction coefficients, quenching, labeling stoichiometry and other variations in the spectroscopic properties of the dye to enable more accurate calculation of distances from FRET data. We also discuss approximations that concern the orientation of the transition moments of the two dye molecules, as well as the impact of other errors in the measurement of absolute distances. Thirteen dye-pair locations with different distances using 18 independent FRET pairs conjugated to specific 30 S protein residues have been used to determine distance changes within the 30 S subunit upon association with the 50 S subunit, forming the 70 S ribosome. Here, we explain the spectroscopic methods we have used, which should be of general interest in studies that aim at obtaining quantitative distance information from FRET.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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