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Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2011 May;12(5):824-33.

Fluorescence molecule counting for single-molecule studies in crowded environment of living cells without and with broken ergodicity.

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Medical University of Graz, Riesstrasse 58a/5, A-8047 Graz, Austria.


We present a new approach to distinguish between non-ergodic and ergodic behavior. Performing ensemble averaging in a subpopulation of individual molecules leads to a mean value that can be similar to the mean value obtained in an ergodic system. The averaging is carried out by minimizing the variation between the sum of the temporal averaged mean square deviation of the simulated data with respect to the logarithmic scaling behavior of the subpopulation. For this reason, we first introduce a kind of Continuous Time Random Walks (CTRW), which we call Limited Continuous Time Random Walks (LCTRW) on fractal support. The random waiting time distributions are sampled at points which fulfill the condition N <1, where N is the Poisson probability of finding a single molecule in the femtoliter-sized observation volume ΔV at the single-molecule level. Given a subpopulation of different single molecules of the same kind, the ratio T/ T(m) between the measurement time T and the meaningful time T(m), which is the time for observing just one and the same single molecule, is the experimentally accessible quantity that allows to compare different molecule numbers in the subpopulation. In addition, the mean square displacement traveled by the molecule during the time t is determined by an upper limit of the geometric dimension of the living cell or its nucleus.

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