Simultaneous determination of intramolecular distance distributions and conformational dynamics by global analysis of energy transfer measurements

Biophys J. 1989 Jun;55(6):1225-36. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(89)82918-2.


Fluorescence energy transfer is widely used for determination of intramolecular distances in macromolecules. The time dependence of the rate of energy transfer is a function of the donor/acceptor distance distribution and fluctuations between the various conformations which may occur during the lifetime of the excited state. Previous attempts to recover both distance distributions and segmental diffusion from time-resolved experiments have been unsuccessful due to the extreme correlation between fitting parameters. A method has been developed, based on global analysis of both donor and acceptor fluorescence decay curves, which overcomes this extreme cross-correlation and allows the parameters of the equilibrium distance distributions and intramolecular diffusion constants to be recovered with high statistical significance and accuracy. Simulation studies of typical intramolecular energy transfer experiments reveal that both static and dynamic conformational distribution information can thus be obtained at a single temperature and viscosity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biopolymers*
  • Macromolecular Substances*
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Molecular Conformation*
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence / methods


  • Biopolymers
  • Macromolecular Substances