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Biophys J. 2013 Jun 4;104(11):2383-91. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2013.04.030.

Exponential sum-fitting of dwell-time distributions without specifying starting parameters.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA. DL@miami.edu

Abstract

Fitting dwell-time distributions with sums of exponentials is widely used to characterize histograms of open- and closed-interval durations recorded from single ion channels, as well as for other physical phenomena. However, it can be difficult to identify the contributing exponential components. Here we extend previous methods of exponential sum-fitting to present a maximum-likelihood approach that consistently detects all significant exponentials without the need for user-specified starting parameters. Instead of searching for exponentials, the fitting starts with a very large number of initial exponentials with logarithmically spaced time constants, so that none are missed. Maximum-likelihood fitting then determines the areas of all the initial exponentials keeping the time constants fixed. In an iterative manner, with refitting after each step, the analysis then removes exponentials with negligible area and combines closely spaced adjacent exponentials, until only those exponentials that make significant contributions to the dwell-time distribution remain. There is no limit on the number of significant exponentials and no starting parameters need be specified. We demonstrate fully automated detection for both experimental and simulated data, as well as for classical exponential-sum-fitting problems.

Copyright © 2013 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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