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Determination of the fractal dimension of membrane protein aggregates using fluorescence energy transfer.

  • T G Dewey
  • M M Datta
Publication Date
Aug 01, 1989
  • Biology
  • Design


It is demonstrated that fluorescence resonance energy transfer may be used to determine the fractal dimension of aggregates of membrane-bound proteins. Theoretical and experimental results are presented for two different experimental designs: energy transfer between proteins and energy transfer from lipids to proteins. For energy transfer between proteins the lattice spacing must be known independently for a fractal dimension to be uniquely determined, and this represents a disadvantage to this experimental design. Results are presented for the calcium ATPase and a fractal dimension of 1.9 is estimated for ATPase aggregates by assuming a lattice spacing of 50 A. Energy transfer from lipids to protein provides a means of estimating the length of the "coast-line" of the aggregate. In this case the fractal dimension is uniquely determined from a log-log plot. An analysis of data for bacteriohodopsin reconstituted in phospholipid vesicles gives a fractal dimension of 1.6. The structural basis of the value for the fractal dimension is discussed for these two systems. These techniques provide a means of assessing the nature of protein-protein interactions in membranous systems.

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