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The physical causes for wide variation of Stokes shift values in emission spectra of tryptophan fluorophores in proteins have been proposed in the model of discrete states (Burstein, E. A., N. S. Vedenkina, and M. N. Ivkova. 1973. Photochem. Photobiol. 18:263–279; Burstein, E. A. 1977a. Intrinsic Protein Luminescence (The Nature and Application). In Advances in Science and Technology (Itogi Nauki i Tekhniki), Biophysics Vol. 7. VINITI, Moscow [In Russian]; Burstein, E. A. 1983. Molecular Biology (Moscow) 17:455–467 [In Russian; English translation]). It was assumed that the existence of the five most probable spectral classes of emitting tryptophan residues and differences among the classes were analyzed in terms of various combinations of specific and universal interactions of excited fluorophores with their environment. The development of stable algorithms of decomposition of tryptophan fluorescence spectra into log-normal components gave us an opportunity to apply two mathematically different algorithms, SImple fitting with Mean-Square criterion (SIMS) and PHaseplot- based REsolving with Quenchers (PHREQ) for the decomposition of a representative set of emission spectra of proteins.Here we present the results of decomposition of tryptophan emission spectra of > 100 different proteins, some in various structural states (native and denatured, in complexes with ions or organic ligands, in various pH-induced conformations, etc.). Analysis of the histograms of occurrence of >300 spectral log-normal components with various maximum positions confirmed the statistical discreteness of several states of emitting tryptophan fluorophores in proteins.

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