An analysis method of lifetime, polarization and spectrally filtered fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, referred to as filtered FCS (fFCS), is introduced. It uses, but is not limited to, multiparameter fluorescence detection to differentiate between molecular species with respect to their fluorescence lifetime, polarization and spectral information. Like the recently introduced fluorescence lifetime correlation spectroscopy (FLCS) [Chem. Phys. Lett. 2002, 353, 439-445], fFCS is based on pulsed laser excitation. However, it uses the species-specific polarization and spectrally resolved fluorescence decays to generate filters. We determined the most efficient method to generate global filters taking into account the anisotropy information. Thus, fFCS is able to distinguish species, even if they have very close or the same fluorescence lifetime, given differences in other fluorescence parameters. fFCS can be applied as a tool to compute species-specific auto- (SACF) and cross- correlation (SCCF) functions from a mixture of different species for accurate and quantitative analysis of their concentration, diffusion and kinetic properties. The computed correlation curves are also free from artifacts caused by unspecific background signal. We tested this methodology by simulating the extreme case of ligand-receptor binding processes monitored only by differences in fluorescence anisotropy. Furthermore, we apply fFCS to an experimental single-molecule FRET study of an open-to-closed conformational transition of the protein Syntaxin-1. In conclusion, fFCS and the global analysis of the SACFs and SCCF is a key tool to investigate binding processes and conformational dynamics of biomolecules in a nanosecond-to-millisecond time range as well as to unravel the involved molecular states.
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