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Title: Unraveling multi-state molecular dynamics in single-molecule FRET experiments. II. Quantitative analysis of multi-state kinetic networks
Single-molecule Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (smFRET) experiments are ideally suited to resolve the structural dynamics of biomolecules. A significant challenge to date is capturing and quantifying the exchange between multiple conformational states, mainly when these dynamics occur on the sub-millisecond timescale. Many methods for quantitative analysis are challenged if more than two states are involved, and the appropriate choice of the number of states in the kinetic network is difficult. An additional complication arises if dynamically active molecules coexist with pseudo-static molecules in similar conformational states with undistinguishable Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) efficiencies. To address these problems, we developed a quantitative integrative analysis framework that combines the information from FRET-lines that relate average fluorescence lifetimes and intensities in two-dimensional burst frequency histograms, fluorescence decays obtained by time-correlated single-photon-counting, photon distribution analysis of the intensities, and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. Individually, these methodologies provide ambiguous results for the characterization of dynamics in complex kinetic networks. However, the global analysis approach enables accurate determination of the number of states, their kinetic connectivity, the transition rate constants, and species fractions. To challenge the potential of smFRET experiments for studying multi-state kinetic networks, we apply our integrative framework using a set of synthetic data more » for three-state systems with different kinetic connectivity and exchange rates. Our methodology paves the way toward an integrated analysis of multiparameter smFRET experiments that spans all dimensions of the experimental data. Finally, we propose a workflow for the analysis and show examples that demonstrate the usefulness of this toolkit for dynamic structural biology. « less
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The Journal of Chemical Physics
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National Science Foundation
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  2. Abstract

    Single molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET) is a unique biophysical approach for studying conformational dynamics in biomacromolecules. Photon-by-photon hidden Markov modeling (H2MM) is an analysis tool that can quantify FRET dynamics of single biomolecules, even if they occur on the sub-millisecond timescale. However, dye photophysical transitions intertwined with FRET dynamics may cause artifacts. Here, we introduce multi-parameter H2MM (mpH2MM), which assists in identifying FRET dynamics based on simultaneous observation of multiple experimentally-derived parameters. We show the importance of using mpH2MM to decouple FRET dynamics caused by conformational changes from photophysical transitions in confocal-based smFRET measurements of a DNA hairpin, the maltose binding protein, MalE, and the type-III secretion system effector, YopO, fromYersiniaspecies, all exhibiting conformational dynamics ranging from the sub-second to microsecond timescales. Overall, we show that using mpH2MM facilitates the identification and quantification of biomolecular sub-populations and their origin.

  3. Abstract FRET experiments can provide state-specific structural information of complex dynamic biomolecular assemblies. However, to overcome the sparsity of FRET experiments, they need to be combined with computer simulations. We introduce a program suite with ( i ) an automated design tool for FRET experiments, which determines how many and which FRET pairs should be used to minimize the uncertainty and maximize the accuracy of an integrative structure, ( ii ) an efficient approach for FRET-assisted coarse-grained structural modeling, and all-atom molecular dynamics simulations-based refinement, and ( iii ) a quantitative quality estimate for judging the accuracy of FRET-derived structures as opposed to precision. We benchmark our tools against simulated and experimental data of proteins with multiple conformational states and demonstrate an accuracy of ~3 Å RMSD Cα against X-ray structures for sets of 15 to 23 FRET pairs. Free and open-source software for the introduced workflow is available at . A web server for FRET-assisted structural modeling of proteins is available at .
  4. Abstract Single-molecule FRET (smFRET) is a versatile technique to study the dynamics and function of biomolecules since it makes nanoscale movements detectable as fluorescence signals. The powerful ability to infer quantitative kinetic information from smFRET data is, however, complicated by experimental limitations. Diverse analysis tools have been developed to overcome these hurdles but a systematic comparison is lacking. Here, we report the results of a blind benchmark study assessing eleven analysis tools used to infer kinetic rate constants from smFRET trajectories. We test them against simulated and experimental data containing the most prominent difficulties encountered in analyzing smFRET experiments: different noise levels, varied model complexity, non-equilibrium dynamics, and kinetic heterogeneity. Our results highlight the current strengths and limitations in inferring kinetic information from smFRET trajectories. In addition, we formulate concrete recommendations and identify key targets for future developments, aimed to advance our understanding of biomolecular dynamics through quantitative experiment-derived models.
  5. null (Ed.)
    Single-molecule FRET (smFRET) has become a mainstream technique for studying biomolecular structural dynamics. The rapid and wide adoption of smFRET experiments by an ever-increasing number of groups has generated significant progress in sample preparation, measurement procedures, data analysis, algorithms and documentation. Several labs that employ smFRET approaches have joined forces to inform the smFRET community about streamlining how to perform experiments and analyze results for obtaining quantitative information on biomolecular structure and dynamics. The recent efforts include blind tests to assess the accuracy and the precision of smFRET experiments among different labs using various procedures. These multi-lab studies have led to the development of smFRET procedures and documentation, which are important when submitting entries into the archiving system for integrative structure models, PDB-Dev. This position paper describes the current ‘state of the art’ from different perspectives, points to unresolved methodological issues for quantitative structural studies, provides a set of ‘soft recommendations’ about which an emerging consensus exists, and lists openly available resources for newcomers and seasoned practitioners. To make further progress, we strongly encourage ‘open science’ practices.