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Picosecond Multidimensional Fluorescence Spectroscopy: A Tool to Measure Real-time Protein Dynamics During Function


  • This paper is part of the Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Retinal Proteins held at Awaji Island, Hyogo, Japan on 4–8 June 2006.

*Corresponding author email: (Ulrike Alexiev)


Advanced multidimensional time-correlated single photon counting (mdTCSPC) and picosecond time-resolved fluorescence in combination with site-directed fluorescence labeling are valuable tools to study the properties of membrane protein surface segments on the pico- to nanoseconds time scale. Time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy changes of protein bound fluorescent probes reveal changes in protein dynamics and steric restriction. In addition, the change in fluorescence lifetime and intensity of the covalently bound fluorescent dye is indicative of environmental changes at the protein surface. In this study, we have measured the changes in fluorescence lifetime traces of the fluorescent dye fluorescein covalently bound to the first cytoplasmic loop of bacteriorhodopsin (bR) after light activation of protein function. The fluorescence is excited by a picosecond laser pulse. The retinylidene chromophore of bR is light-activated by a 10 ns laser pulse, which in turn triggers recording of a sequence of fluorescence lifetime traces in the mdTCSPC-module. The fluorescence decay changes upon protein function occur predominantly in the 100 ps time range. The kinetics of these changes shows two transitions between three intermediate states in the second part of the bR photocycle. Correlation with photocycle kinetics allows for the determination of reaction intermediates at the proteins surface which are coupled to changes in the retinal binding pocket.