A technique was developed for the detection of fluorescence signals from free single molecules for extended time periods and was applied to the characterization of the unfolded states of iso-1-cytochrome c (cyt c). Protein molecules labeled with fluorescent dye were slowly injected into a capillary at concentrations that allow for the observation of one molecule at a time. A laser was introduced into the capillary coaxially, and the fluorescence was imaged as traces by using a lens with a large focal depth and wide field of view. Thus, the traces reflect the time-dependent changes in the fluorescence signals from single proteins. Cyt c was labeled with Alexa Fluor 532 at the C-terminal cysteine (cyt c-Alexa). In bulk experiments, cyt c-Alexa was shown to possess different fluorescence intensity for the native state, the unfolded state (U), and the intermediate state. Single-molecule traces of cyt c-Alexa were recorded by using the device. Intensity histograms of the traces revealed two distributions with broad and narrow widths, which were interpreted to correspond to the U and intermediate state, respectively, observed in the bulk measurements. The broad width of the U suggested the existence of a relatively slow conformational dynamics, which might be consistent with the correlation time (≈15 ms) estimated from the traces assignable to the U. The technique was expected to reveal dynamics of proteins along the folding processes without artifacts caused by immobilization.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
|Published - 2007 Jun 19
- Iso-1-cytochrome c
- Unfolded state