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Biophys J. 2012 Sep 19;103(6):1315-24. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.07.047.

Variational Bayes analysis of a photon-based hidden Markov model for single-molecule FRET trajectories.

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Advanced Science Institute, RIKEN, Wako, Saitama, Japan.


Single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (smFRET) measurement is a powerful technique for investigating dynamics of biomolecules, for which various efforts have been made to overcome significant stochastic noise. Time stamp (TS) measurement has been employed experimentally to enrich information within the signals, while data analyses such as the hidden Markov model (HMM) have been successfully applied to recover the trajectories of molecular state transitions from time-binned photon counting signals or images. In this article, we introduce the HMM for TS-FRET signals, employing the variational Bayes (VB) inference to solve the model, and demonstrate the application of VB-HMM-TS-FRET to simulated TS-FRET data. The same analysis using VB-HMM is conducted for other models and the previously reported change point detection scheme. The performance is compared to other analysis methods or data types and we show that our VB-HMM-TS-FRET analysis can achieve the best performance and results in the highest time resolution. Finally, an smFRET experiment was conducted to observe spontaneous branch migration of Holliday-junction DNA. VB-HMM-TS-FRET was successfully applied to reconstruct the state transition trajectory with the number of states consistent with the nucleotide sequence. The results suggest that a single migration process frequently involves rearrangement of multiple basepairs.

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