Theory of FRET 'Spectroscopic Ruler' for Short Distances: Application to Polyproline
Sprache des Titels:
Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET) is an important mechanism for the estimation of intermolecular distances, e.g., in fluorescent labeled proteins. The interpretations of FRET experiments with standard Forster theory relies on the following approximations: (i) a point-dipole approximation (PDA) for the coupling between transition densities of the chromophores, (ii) a screening of this coupling by the inverse optical dielectric constant of the medium, and (iii) the assumption of fast isotropic sampling over the mutual orientations of the chromophores. These approximations become critical, in particular, at short intermolecular distances, where the PDA and the screening model become invalid and the variation of interchromophore distances, and not just orientations, has a critical influence on the excitation energy transfer. Here, we present a quantum chemical/electrostatic/molecular dynamics (MD) method that goes beyond all of the above approximations. The Poisson-TrEsp method for the ab initio/electrostatic calculation of excitonic couplings in a dielectric medium is combined with all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to calculate FRET efficiencies. The method is applied to analyze single-molecule experiments on a polyproline helix of variable length labeled with Alexa dyes. Our method provides a quantitative explanation of the overestimation of FRET efficiencies by the standard Forster theory for short interchromophore distances for this system. A detailed analysis of the different levels of approximation that connect the present Poisson-TrEsp/MD method with Forster theory reveals error compensation effects, between the PDA and the neglect of correlations in interchromophore distances and orientations on one hand and the neglect of static disorder in orientations and interchromophore distances on the other. ...