Beyond analytic solution: Analysis of FRAP experiments by spatial simulation of the forward problem

Biophys J. 2023 Sep 19;122(18):3722-3737. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2023.06.013. Epub 2023 Jun 23.


Fluorescence redistribution after photobleaching is a commonly used method to understand the dynamic behavior of molecules within cells. Analytic solutions have been developed for specific, well-defined models of dynamic behavior in idealized geometries, but these solutions are inaccurate in complex geometries or when complex binding and diffusion behaviors exist. We demonstrate the use of numerical reaction-diffusion simulations using the Virtual Cell software platform to model fluorescence redistribution after photobleaching experiments. Multiple simulations employing parameter scans and varying bleaching locations and sizes can help to bracket diffusion coefficients and kinetic rate constants in complex image-based geometries. This approach is applied to problems in membrane surface diffusion as well as diffusion and binding in cytosolic volumes in complex cell geometries. In addition, we model diffusion and binding within phase-separated biomolecular condensates (liquid droplets). These are modeled as spherical low-affinity binding domains that also define a high viscosity medium for exchange of the free fluorescently labeled ligand with the external cytosol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Diffusion*
  • Fluorescence
  • Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching / methods