The interactions of peripheral membrane proteins with both membrane lipids and proteins are vital for many cellular processes including membrane trafficking, cellular signaling, and cell growth/regulation. Building accurate biophysical models of these processes requires quantitative characterization of the behavior of peripheral membrane proteins, yet methods to quantify their interactions inside living cells are very limited. Because peripheral membrane proteins usually exist both in membrane-bound and cytoplasmic forms, the separation of these two populations is a key challenge. This thesis aims at addressing this challenge by extending fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy (FFS) to simultaneously measure the oligomeric state of peripheral membrane proteins in the cytoplasm and at the plasma membrane. We developed a new method based on z-scan FFS that accounts for the fluorescence contributions from cytoplasmic and membrane layers by incorporating a fluorescence intensity z-scan through the cell. H-Ras-EGFP served as a model system to demonstrate the feasibility of the technique. The resolvability and stability of z-scanning was determined as well as the oligomeric state of H-Ras-EGFP at the plasma membrane and in the cytoplasm. Further, we successfully characterized the binding affinity of a variety of proteins to the plasma membrane by quantitative analysis of the z-scan fluorescence intensity profile. This analysis method, which we refer to as z-scan fluorescence profile deconvoution, was further used in combination with dual-color competition studies to determine the lipid specificity of protein binding. Finally, we applied z-scan FFS to provide insight into the early assembly steps of the HTLV-1 retrovirus.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2015. Major: Physics. Advisor: Boris Shklovskii. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 194 pages.
Quantitative Fluorescence Studies in Living Cells: Extending Fluorescence Fluctuation Spectroscopy to Peripheral Membrane Proteins.
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