Quantifying biomolecular dynamics has become a major task of single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy methods. In single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET), kinetic information is extracted from the stream of photons emitted by attached donor and acceptor fluorophores. Here, we describe a time-resolved version of burst variance analysis that can quantify kinetic rates at microsecond to millisecond timescales in smFRET experiments of diffusing molecules. Bursts are partitioned into segments with a fixed number of photons. The FRET variance is computed from these segments and compared with the variance expected from shot noise. By systematically varying the segment size, dynamics at different timescales can be captured. We provide a theoretical framework to extract kinetic rates from the decay of the FRET variance with increasing segment size. Compared to other methods such as filtered fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, recurrence analysis of single particles, and two-dimensional lifetime correlation spectroscopy, fewer photons are needed to obtain reliable timescale estimates, which reduces the required measurement time.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)