Dynamics of fluorescence marker concentration as a probe of mobility

D. E. Koppel, D. Axelrod, J. Schlessinger, E. L. Elson, W. W. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

344 Scopus citations


We have developed an effective experimental system for the characterization of molecular and structural mobility. It incorporates a modified fluorescence microscope geometry and a variety of analytical techniques to measure effective diffusion coefficients ranging over almost six orders of magnitude, from less than 10(-11) cm2/s to greater than 10(-6) cm2/s. Two principal techniques, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and fluorescence photobleaching recovery (FPR), are employed. In the FPR technique, translational transport rates are measured by monitoring the evolution of a spatial inhomogeneity of fluorescence that is produced photochemically in a microscopic volume by a short burst of intense laser radiation. In contrast, FCS uses laser-induced fluorescence to probe the spontaneous concentration fluctuations in microscopic sample volumes. The kinetics are analyzed by computing time-correlation functions of the stochastic fluctuations of the measured fluorescence intensity. The optical system and digital photocount correlator designed around a dedicated minicomputer are described and discussed. The general power of these techniques is demonstrated with examples from studies conducted on bulk solutions, lipid bilayer membranes, and mammalian cell plasma membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1329
Number of pages15
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1976


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