We present a theoretical model to account for the quenching data of macromolecular fluorescence and phosphorescence when the accessibility to the quencher is gated by a dynamic mechanism coupled to the fluctuation of the macromolecular matrix. We show that the model currently in use to interpret gated quenching processes gives only approximate results in both qualitative and quantitative terms, and it can be regarded as a specific case of the presented model. We show that the gating dynamics affect both the apparent accessibility (alpha obs) and Ksv values obtained by the modified Stern-Volmer plot. The effect of gating on alpha obs and Ksv depends upon the relative rate of gating compared to the excited state lifetime. The model allows us to predict the effect of viscosity on quenching if it takes place by a gated mechanism. The prediction can and is, in this case, compared to the existing data on glycerol effects on acrylamide quenching of the tryptophan fluorescence in RNAse T1. The result shows that a simple gated model is not compatible with the observed quenching behavior
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