On the origin of multiexponential fluorescence decays from 2-aminopurine-labeled dinucleotides


Jacob M Remington, Abbey M Philip, Mahesh Hariharan, Bern Kohler


The Journal of Chemical Physics


The fluorescent probe 2-aminopurine (2Ap) has been used for decades to study local conformational fluctuations in DNA. Steady-state and time-resolved measurements of 2Ap fluorescence have been used to predict specific conformational states through suitable modeling of the quenching of the fluorescence of a 2Ap residue incorporated site-specifically into a DNA strand. The success of this approach has been limited by a lack of understanding of the precise factors responsible for the complex, multiexponential decays observed experimentally. In this study, dinucleotides composed of 2Ap and adenine were studied by the time-correlated single-photon counting technique to investigate the causes of heterogeneous emission kinetics. Contrary to previous reports, we argue that emission from 2Ap that is stacked with a neighboring base contributes negligibly to the emission signals recorded more than 50 ps after excitation, which are instead dominated by emission from unstacked 2Ap. We find that the decay kinetics can be modeled using a continuous lifetime distribution, which arises from the inherent distance dependence of electron transfer rates without the need to postulate a small number of discrete states with decay times derived from multiexponential fits. These results offer a new perspective on the quenching of 2Ap fluorescence and expand the information that can be obtained from experiments.



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