Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy measures molecular transport in cells

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Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) can measure dynamics of fluorescent molecules in cells. FCS measures the fluctuations in the number of fluorescent molecules in a small volume illuminated by a thin beam of excitation light. These fluctuations are processed statistically to yield an autocorrelation function from which rates of diffusion, convection, chemical reaction, and other processes can be extracted. The advantages of this approach include the ability to measure the mobility of a very small number of molecules, even down to the single molecule level, over a wide range of rates in very small regions of a cell. In addition to rates of diffusion and convection, FCS also provides unique information about the local concentration, states of aggregation and molecular interaction using fluctuation amplitude and cross-correlation methods. Recent advances in technology have rendered these once difficult measurements accessible to routine use in cell biology and biochemistry. This review provides a summary of the FCS method and describes current areas in which the FCS approach is being extended beyond its original scope.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-796
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2001


  • Chemical kinetics
  • Correlation function
  • Diffusion
  • Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy
  • Photo-bleaching recovery


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