Fluorescence depolarization is a powerful technique in resolving dynamics of molecular systems. Data obtained in fluorescence depolarization experiments are highly complex. Mathematical models for analyzing data from depolarization due to rotational motion have been largely based on the rotational diffusion equation. These results have been verified by Monte Carlo simulations. It has been implicitly stated that a 90 degrees jump model between predefined orientations such as presented by G. Weber (1971. J. Chem. Phys. 55:2399–2411) should, for the specific case of fluorescence depolarization, give the same answer as the diffusion equation. Since the highly symmetric cases considered by G. Weber gave the same result as the diffusion equation, it has been desirable to use this method in cases where depolarization arises from both discrete processes and rotational diffusion. We have derived, in a compartmental formalism, the general result for excitation and emission dipoles not necessarily coincident with any of the principal rotational axes of the fluorophore from this exchange model, and have found it to be different from that of the diffusion equation approach. We have also verified this difference with a Monte Carlo simulation of our exchange model. This derivation allows us to define the limits of validity of the 90 degrees exchanges to model rotational diffusion. Also, for systems where movements may be jumps between a few preferred orientations, the actual physical mechanism of depolarization may not be accurately represented by continuous diffusion. The compartmental formalism developed here can be used to easily combine rotational motions with discrete position jumps or other level kinetics.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1091
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1989


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