Multi-color fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy in living cells via spectral detection
Signaling pathways in biological systems rely on specific interactions between multiple biomolecules. Fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy provides a powerful toolbox to quantify such interactions directly in living cells. Cross-correlation analysis of spectrally separated fluctuations provides information about inter-molecular interactions but is usually limited to two fluorophore species. Here, we present scanning fluorescence spectral correlation spectroscopy (SFSCS), a versatile approach that can be implemented on commercial confocal microscopes, allowing the investigation of interactions between multiple protein species at the plasma membrane. We demonstrate that SFSCS enables cross-talk-free cross-correlation, diffusion and oligomerization analysis of up to four protein species labeled with strongly overlapping fluorophores. As an example, we investigate the interactions of influenza A virus (IAV) matrix protein 2 with two cellular host factors simultaneously. We furthermore apply raster spectral image correlation spectroscopy for the simultaneous analysis of up to four species and determine the stoichiometry of ternary IAV polymerase complexes in the cell nucleus.