SpRET: Highly sensitive and reliable spectral measurement of absolute FRET efficiency

Shiri Levy, Christian D. Wilms, Eliaz Brumer, Joy Kahn, Lilach Pnueli, Yoav Arava, Jens Eilers, Daniel Gitler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Contemporary research aims to understand biological processes not only by identifying participating proteins, but also by characterizing the dynamics of their interactions. Because Förster's Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) is invaluable for the latter undertaking, its usage is steadily increasing. However, FRET measurements are notoriously error-prone, especially when its inherent efficiency is low, a not uncommon situation. Furthermore, many FRET methods are either difficult to implement, are not appropriate for observation of cellular dynamics, or report instrument-specific indices that hamper communication of results within the scientific community. We present here a novel comprehensive spectral methodology, SpRET, which substantially increases both the reliability and sensitivity of FRET microscopy, even under unfavorable conditions such as weak fluorescence or the presence of noise. While SpRET overcomes common pitfalls such as interchannel crosstalk and direct excitation of the acceptor, it also excels in removal of autofluorescence or background contaminations and in correcting chromatic aberrations, often overlooked factors that severely undermine FRET experiments. Finally, SpRET quantitatively reports absolute rather than relative FRET efficiency values, as well as the acceptor-to-donor molar ratio, which is critical for full and proper interpretation of FRET experiments. Thus, SpRET serves as an advanced, improved, and powerful tool in the cell biologist's toolbox.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-190
Number of pages15
JournalMicroscopy and Microanalysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2011


  • FRET
  • fluorescence
  • fluorescent proteins
  • microscopy
  • molecular interactions
  • spectral unmixing


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