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Biophys J. 2006 Jan 15;90(2):628-39. Epub 2005 Oct 28.

Sampling effects, noise, and photobleaching in temporal image correlation spectroscopy.

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Department of Chemistry, and Department of Physics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


We present an extensive investigation of the accuracy and precision of temporal image correlation spectroscopy (TICS). Using simulations of laser scanning microscopy image time series, we investigate the effect of spatiotemporal sampling, particle density, noise, sampling frequency, and photobleaching of fluorophores on the recovery of transport coefficients and number densities by TICS. We show that the recovery of transport coefficients is usually limited by spatial sampling, while the measurement of accurate number densities is restricted by background noise in an image series. We also demonstrate that photobleaching of the fluorophore causes a consistent overestimation of diffusion coefficients and flow rates, and a severe underestimation of number densities. We derive a bleaching correction equation that removes both of these biases when used to fit temporal autocorrelation functions, without increasing the number of fit parameters. Finally, we image the basal membrane of a CHO cell with EGFP/alpha-actinin, using two-photon microscopy, and analyze a subregion of this series using TICS and apply the bleaching correction. We show that the photobleaching correction can be determined simply by using the average image intensities from the time series, and we use the simulations to provide good estimates of the accuracy and precision of the number density and transport coefficients measured with TICS.

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