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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  2. Background: The growing evidence that G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) not only form oligomersbut that the oligomers also may modulate the receptor function provides a promising avenue in the area ofdrug design. Highly selective drugs targeting distinct oligomeric sub-states offer the potential to increase efficacywhile reducing side effects. In this regard, determining the various oligomeric configurations and geometricsub-states of a membrane receptor is of utmost importance. Methods: In this report, we have reviewed two techniques that have proven to be valuable in monitoring thequaternary structure of proteins in vivo: Fӧrster resonance energy transfer (FRET) spectrometry and fluorescenceintensity fluctuation (FIF) spectrometry. Inmore »FRET spectrometry, distributions of pixel-level FRET efficiencyare analyzed using theoretical models of various quaternary structures to determine the geometry andstoichiometry of protein oligomers. In FIF spectrometry, spatial fluctuations of fluorescent molecule intensitiesare analyzed to reveal quantitative information on the size and stability of protein oligomers. Results: We demonstrate the application of these techniques to a number of different fluorescence-based studiesof cells expressing fluorescently labeled membrane receptors, both in the presence and absence of variousligands. The results show the effectiveness of using FRET spectrometry to determine detailed information regardingthe quaternary structure receptors form, as well as FIF and FRET for determining the relative abundanceof different-sized oligomers when an equilibrium forms between such structures. Conclusion: FRET and FIF spectrometry are valuable techniques for characterizing membrane receptor oligomers,which are of great benefit to structure‐based drug design.« less