Time-resolved homo-FRET studies of biotin-streptavidin complexes
Forster resonance energy transfer is a mechanism of fluorescence quenching that is notably useful for characterizing properties of biomolecules and/or their interactions. Here we study water-solutions of Biotin-Streptavidin complexes, in which Biotin is labeled with a rigidly-bound fluorophore that can interact by Forster resonance energy transfer with the fluorophores labeling the other, up to three, Biotins of the same complex. The fluorophore, Atto550, is a Rhodamine analogue. We detect the time-resolved fluorescence decay of the fluorophores with an apparatus endowed with single-photon sensitivity and temporal resolution of similar to 30 ps. The decay profiles we observe for samples containing constant Biotin-Atto550 conjugates and varying Streptavidin concentrations are multi-exponential. Each decay component can be associated with the rate of quenching exerted on each donor by each of the acceptors that label the other Biotin molecules, depending on the binding site they occupy. The main features that lead to this result are that (i) the transition dipole moments of the up-to-four Atto550 fluorophores that label the complexes are fixed as to both relative positions and mutual orientations: (ii) the fluorophores are identical and the role of donor in each Biotin-Streptavidin complex is randomly attributed to the one that has absorbed the excitation light (homo-FRET). Obviously the high-temporal resolution of the excitation-detection apparatus is necessary to discriminate among the fluorescence decay components. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.