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J Biomed Opt. 2008 May-Jun;13(3):031204. doi: 10.1117/1.2940367.

Energy migration alters the fluorescence lifetime of Cerulean: implications for fluorescence lifetime imaging Forster resonance energy transfer measurements.

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Laboratory of Molecular Physiology, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Bethesda, Maryland 20852, USA.

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  • J Biomed Opt. 2008 Jul-Aug;13(4):049801.


Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET) is a physical phenomenon used to study molecular interactions in living cells. Changes in the fluorescence lifetime of proteins genetically tagged with a donor fluorophore, such as cyan fluorescent protein or Cerulean, are used to measure energy transfer to a protein tagged with an acceptor fluorophore (yellow fluorescent protein or Venus). Increased transfer efficiency is usually interpreted as closer proximity. Resonance energy transfer is also possible between identical fluorophores. This form of FRET is called energy migration resonance energy transfer (EM-RET). Theoretically, EM-RET should not alter the lifetime or emission spectrum measured from a population of fluorophores. We find a change in the fluorescent lifetime of Cerulean that correlates with energy migration and can result in significant errors when using Cerulean as a donor to measure FRET efficiencies based on fluorescence lifetimes [corrected]

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