Dual time-resolved temperature-jump fluorescence and infrared spectroscopy for the study of fast protein dynamics

Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. 2017 May 5;178:185-191. doi: 10.1016/j.saa.2017.01.069. Epub 2017 Feb 2.


Time-resolved temperature-jump (T-jump) coupled with fluorescence and infrared (IR) spectroscopy is a powerful technique for monitoring protein dynamics. Although IR spectroscopy of the polypeptide amide I mode is more technically challenging, it offers complementary information because it directly probes changes in the protein backbone, whereas, fluorescence spectroscopy is sensitive to the environment of specific side chains. With the advent of widely tunable quantum cascade lasers (QCL) it is possible to efficiently probe multiple IR frequencies with high sensitivity and reproducibility. Here we describe a dual time-resolved T-jump fluorescence and IR spectrometer and its application to study protein folding dynamics. A Q-switched Ho:YAG laser provides the T-jump source for both time-resolved IR and fluorescence spectroscopy, which are probed by a QCL and Ti:Sapphire laser, respectively. The Ho:YAG laser simultaneously pumps the time-resolved IR and fluorescence spectrometers. The instrument has high sensitivity, with an IR absorbance detection limit of <0.2mOD and a fluorescence sensitivity of 2% of the overall fluorescence intensity. Using a computer controlled QCL to rapidly tune the IR frequency it is possible to create a T-jump induced difference spectrum from 50ns to 0.5ms. This study demonstrates the power of the dual time-resolved T-jump fluorescence and IR spectroscopy to resolve complex folding mechanisms by complementary IR absorbance and fluorescence measurements of protein dynamics.

Keywords: Fluorescence spectroscopy; Infrared spectroscopy; Protein folding; Quantum Cascade laser; Temperature-jump; WW domain.

MeSH terms

  • Deuterium Oxide / chemistry
  • Kinetics
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared
  • Temperature*
  • Time Factors


  • Proteins
  • Deuterium Oxide