Research Paper

Journal of Biological Physics

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 109-127

First online:

Efficiency of Resonance Energy Transfer in Homo-Oligomeric Complexes of Proteins

  • Valerică RaicuAffiliated withDepartment of Physics and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Email author 

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A theoretical model is proposed for the apparent efficiency of fluorescence (Förster) resonance energy transfer (FRET) in mixtures of free monomers and homo-oligomeric protein complexes of uniform size. The model takes into account possible pathways for transfer of optical excitations from single donors to multiple acceptors and from multiple donors (non-simultaneously) to single acceptors. This necessary departure from the standard theory has been suggested in the literature, but it has only been successfully implemented for a few particular cases, such as for particular geometries of the oligomers. The predictions of the present theoretical model differ significantly from those of the standard theory, with the exception of the case of dimers, for which agreement is observed. This model therefore provides new insights into the FRET behavior of oligomers comprising more than two monomers, and also suggests means for determining the size of oligomeric protein complexes as well as the proportion of associated and unassociated monomers.


Förster (fluorescence) resonance energy transfer FRET Fluorescence theory Protein – protein interaction Protein association Protein self-association Interaction stoichiometry