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In our previous paper (Reshetnyak, Ya. K., and E. A. Burstein. 2001. Biophys. J. 81:1710–1734) we confirmed the existence of five statistically discrete classes of emitting tryptophan fluorophores in proteins. The differences in fluorescence properties of tryptophan residues of these five classes reflect differences in interactions of excited states of tryptophan fluorophores with their microenvironment in proteins. Here we present a system of describing physical and structural parameters of microenvironments of tryptophan residues based on analysis of atomic crystal structures of proteins. The application of multidimensional statistical methods of cluster and discriminant analyses for the set of microenvironment parameters of 137 tryptophan residues of 48 proteins with known three-dimensional structures allowed us to 1) demonstrate the discrete nature of ensembles of structural parameters of tryptophan residues in proteins; 2) assign spectral components obtained after decomposition of tryptophan fluorescence spectra to individual tryptophan residues; 3) find a correlation between spectroscopic and physico-structural features of the microenvironment; and 4) reveal differences in structural and physical parameters of the microenvironment of tryptophan residues belonging to various spectral classes.

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Copyright © 2001 The Biophysical Society All rights reserved.