The total internal reflection/fluorescence photobleaching recovery (TIR/FPR) technique (Thompson et al. 1981. Biophys. J. 33:435) is used to study adsorbed bovine serum albumin dynamics at a quartz glass/aqueous buffer interface. Adsorbed fluorescent labeled protein is bleached by a brief flash of the evanescent wave of a focused totally internally reflected laser beam. The rates of adsorption/desorption and surface diffusion determine the subsequent fluorescence recovery. The protein surface concentration is low enough to be proportional to the observed fluorescence and high enough to insure that the observed recovery rates arise mainly from adsorbed rather than bulk protein dynamics. The photobleaching recovery curves for rhodamine-labeled bovine serum albumin reveal both an irreversibly bound state and a multiplicity of reversibly bound states. The relative amount of reversible to irreversible adsorption increases with increasing bulk protein concentration. Since the adsorbed protein concentration appears to be too high to pack into a homogeneous surface monolayer, the wide range of desorption rates possibly results from multiple layers of protein on the surface. Comparison of the fluorescence recovery curves obtained with various focused laser beam widths suggests that some of the reversibly bound bovine serum albumin molecules can surface diffuse. Aside from their relevance to the surface chemistry of blood, these results demonstrate the feasibility of the TIR/FPR technique for measuring molecular dynamics on solid surfaces.
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