rFRET: A comprehensive, Matlab-based program for analyzing intensity-based ratiometric microscopic FRET experiments

Peter Nagy, Ágnes Szabó, Tímea Váradi, Tamás Kovács, Gyula Batta, János Szöllosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Fluorescence or Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) remains one of the most widely used methods for assessing protein clustering and conformation. Although it is a method with solid physical foundations, many applications of FRET fall short of providing quantitative results due to inappropriate calibration and controls. This shortcoming is especially valid for microscopy where currently available tools have limited or no capability at all to display parameter distributions or to perform gating. Since users of multiparameter flow cytometry usually apply these tools, the absence of these features in applications developed for microscopic FRET analysis is a significant limitation. Therefore, we developed a graphical user interface-controlled Matlab application for the evaluation of ratiometric, intensity-based microscopic FRET measurements. The program can calculate all the necessary overspill and spectroscopic correction factors and the FRET efficiency and it displays the results on histograms and dot plots. Gating on plots and mask images can be used to limit the calculation to certain parts of the image. It is an important feature of the program that the calculated parameters can be determined by regression methods, maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) and from summed intensities in addition to pixel-by-pixel evaluation. The confidence interval of calculated parameters can be estimated using parameter simulations if the approximate average number of detected photons is known. The program is not only user-friendly, but it provides rich output, it gives the user freedom to choose from different calculation modes and it gives insight into the reliability and distribution of the calculated parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-384
Number of pages9
JournalCytometry Part A
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016


  • FRET
  • Image analysis
  • Microscopy
  • Shot noise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology

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