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Methods Mol Biol. 2005;299:153-74.

Quasielastic light scattering for protein assembly studies.

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Department of Physics and Center for Materials Sciences and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.


Quasielastic light scattering (QLS) spectroscopy is an optical method for the determination of diffusion coefficients of particles in solution. In this chapter, we discuss the principles and practice of QLS with respect to protein assembly reactions. Particles undergoing Brownian motion produce fluctuations in scattered light intensity. We describe how the temporal correlation function of these fluctuations can be measured and how this correlation function provides information about the distribution of diffusion coefficients of the particles in solution. We discuss the intricacies of deconvolution of the correlation function and the assumptions incorporated into data analysis procedures. We explain how the Stokes-Einstein relationship can be used to convert distributions of diffusion coefficients into distributions of particle size. Noninvasive observation of the temporal evolution of particles sizes provides a powerful tool for studying protein aggregation and self-assembly. We use examples from studies of Abeta fibrillogenesis to illustrate QLS application for understanding the molecular mechanisms of the nucleation and growth of amyloid fibrils.

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