Orientation dependence in fluorescent energy transfer between Cy3 and Cy5 terminally attached to double-stranded nucleic acids.
ABSTRACT: We have found that the efficiency of fluorescence resonance energy transfer between Cy3 and Cy5 terminally attached to the 5' ends of a DNA duplex is significantly affected by the relative orientation of the two fluorophores. The cyanine fluorophores are predominantly stacked on the ends of the helix in the manner of an additional base pair, and thus their relative orientation depends on the length of the helix. Observed fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) efficiency depends on the length of the helix, as well as its helical periodicity. By changing the helical geometry from B form double-stranded DNA to A form hybrid RNA/DNA, a marked phase shift occurs in the modulation of FRET efficiency with helix length. Both curves are well explained by the standard geometry of B and A form helices. The observed modulation for both polymers is less than that calculated for a fully rigid attachment of the fluorophores. However, a model involving lateral mobility of the fluorophores on the ends of the helix explains the observed experimental data. This has been further modified to take account of a minor fraction of unstacked fluorophore observed by fluorescent lifetime measurements. Our data unequivocally establish that Förster transfer obeys the orientation dependence as expected for a dipole-dipole interaction.
Project description:Cyanine fluorophores are commonly used in single-molecule FRET experiments with nucleic acids. We have previously shown that indocarbocyanine fluorophores attached to the 5'-termini of DNA and RNA via three-carbon atom linkers stack on the ends of the helix, orienting their transition moments. We now investigate the orientation of sulfoindocarbocyanine fluorophores tethered to the 5'-termini of DNA via 13-atom linkers. Fluorescence lifetime measurements of sulfoindocarbocyanine 3 attached to double-stranded DNA indicate that the fluorophore is extensively stacked onto the terminal basepair at 15 °C, with properties that depend on the terminal sequence. In single molecules of duplex DNA, FRET efficiency between sulfoindocarbocyanine 3 and 5 attached in this manner is modulated with helix length, indicative of fluorophore orientation and consistent with stacked fluorophores that can undergo lateral motion. We conclude that terminal stacking is an intrinsic property of the cyanine fluorophores irrespective of the length of the tether and the presence or absence of sulfonyl groups. However, compared to short-tether indocarbocyanine, the mean rotational relationship between the two fluorophores is changed by ?60° for the long-tether sulfoindocarbocyanine fluorophores. This is consistent with the transition moments becoming approximately aligned with the long axis of the terminal basepair for the long-linker species.
Project description:Indocarbocyanine fluorophores attached via the 5' terminus of double-stranded nucleic acids have a strong propensity to stack onto the terminal basepair. We previously demonstrated that the efficiency of fluorescence resonance energy transfer between cyanine 3 and 5 terminally attached to duplex species exhibits a pronounced modulation with helix length. This results from a systematic variation in the orientation parameter ?(2) as the relative rotation of the fluorophore transition moments changes due to the helical geometry. Analysis of such profiles provides a rich source of orientational information. In this work, we applied this methodology to the structure of a three-way helical junction that plays an important role in the hepatitis C virus internal ribosome entry site. By comparing matched pairs of duplex and junction species, we were able to measure the change in rotation at the junction. The data reveal a 29.5° overwinding and a small axial extension. This shows the power of this approach for measuring orientational information in biologically important RNA junctions.
Project description:We report a general phenomenon of the formation of either a fluorescent or an entirely quenched oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) duplex system by hybridizing pairs of complementary ODNs with identical chemical composition. The ODNs carried internucleoside tether-linked cyanines, where the cyanines were chosen to form a Förster's resonance energy transfer (FRET) donor-acceptor pair. The fluorescent and quenched ODN duplex systems differed only in that the cyanines linked to the respective ODNs were linked either closer to the 5'- or 3'-ends of the molecule. In either case, however, the dyes were separated by an identical number (7 or 8) of base pairs. Characterization by molecular modeling and energy minimization using a conformational search algorithm in a molecular operating environment (MOE) revealed that linking of the dyes closer to the 5'-ends resulted in their reciprocal orientation across the major groove which allowed a closely interacting dye pair to be formed. This overlap between the donor and acceptor dye molecules resulted in changes in absorbance spectra consistent with the formation of H-aggregates. Conversely, dyes linked closer to 3'-ends exhibited emissive FRET and formed a pair of dyes that interacted with the DNA helix only weakly. Induced CD spectra analysis suggested that interaction with the double helix was weaker than in the case of the closely interacting cyanine dye pair. Linking the dyes such that the base pair separation was 10 or 0 favored energy transfer with subsequent acceptor emission. Our results suggest that when interpreting FRET measurements from nucleic acids, the use of a "spectroscopic ruler" principle which takes into account the 3D helical context of the double helix will allow more accurate interpretation of fluorescence emission.
Project description:Fluorescent proteins (FPs) have revolutionized cell biology by allowing genetic tagging of specific proteins inside living cells. In conjunction with Förster's resonance energy transfer (FRET) measurements, FP-tagged proteins can be used to study protein-protein interactions and estimate distances between tagged proteins. FRET is mediated by weak Coulombic dipole-dipole coupling of donor and acceptor fluorophores that behave independently, with energy hopping discretely and incoherently between fluorophores. Stronger dipole-dipole coupling can mediate excitonic coupling in which excitation energy is distributed near instantaneously between coherently interacting excited states that behave as a single quantum entity. The interpretation of FP energy transfer measurements to estimate separation often assumes that donors and acceptors are very weakly coupled and therefore use a FRET mechanism. This assumption is considered reasonable as close fluorophore proximity, typically associated with strong excitonic coupling, is limited by the FP ?-barrel structure. Furthermore, physiological temperatures promote rapid vibrational dephasing associated with a rapid decoherence of fluorophore-excited states. Recently, FP dephasing times that are 50 times slower than traditional organic fluorophores have been measured, raising the possibility that evolution has shaped FPs to allow stronger than expected coupling under physiological conditions. In this study, we test if excitonic coupling between FPs is possible at physiological temperatures. FRET and excitonic coupling can be distinguished by monitoring spectral changes associated with fluorophore dimerization. The weak coupling mediating FRET should not cause a change in fluorophore absorption, whereas strong excitonic coupling causes Davydov splitting. Circular dichroism spectroscopy revealed Davydov splitting when the yellow FP VenusA206 dimerizes, and a novel approach combining photon antibunching and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy was used to confirm that the two fluorophores in a VenusA206 homodimer behave as a single-photon emitter. We conclude that excitonic coupling between VenusA206 fluorophores is possible at physiological temperatures.
Project description:Cyclization of DNA with sticky ends is commonly used to measure DNA bendability as a function of length and sequence, but how its kinetics depend on the rotational positioning of the sticky ends around the helical axis is less clear. Here, we measured cyclization (looping) and decyclization (unlooping) rates (kloop and kunloop) of DNA with sticky ends over three helical periods (100-130 bp) using single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). kloop showed a nontrivial undulation as a function of DNA length whereas kunloop showed a clear oscillation with a period close to the helical turn of DNA (?10.5 bp). The oscillation of kunloop was almost completely suppressed in the presence of gaps around the sticky ends. We explain these findings by modeling double-helical DNA as a twisted wormlike chain with a finite width, intrinsic curvature, and stacking interaction between the end base pairs. We also discuss technical issues for converting the FRET-based cyclization/decyclization rates to an equilibrium quantity known as the J factor that is widely used to characterize DNA bending mechanics.
Project description:A family of genetically-encoded metabolite sensors has been constructed using bacterial periplasmic binding proteins (PBPs) linearly fused to protein fluorophores. The ligand-induced conformational change in a PBP allosterically regulates the relative distance and orientation of a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-compatible protein pair. Ligand binding is transduced into a macroscopic FRET observable, providing a reagent for in vitro and in vivo ligand-measurement and visualization. Sensors with a higher FRET signal change are required to expand the dynamic range and allow visualization of subtle analyte changes under high noise conditions. Various observations suggest that factors other than inter-fluorophore separation contribute to FRET transfer efficiency and the resulting ligand-dependent spectral changes. Empirical and rational protein engineering leads to enhanced allosteric linkage between ligand binding and chromophore rearrangement; modifications predicted to decrease chromophore rotational averaging enhance the signal change, emphasizing the importance of the rotational freedom parameter kappa2 to FRET efficiency. Tighter allosteric linkage of the PBP and the fluorophores by linker truncation or by insertion of chromophores into the binding protein at rationally designed sites gave rise to sensors with improved signal change. High-response sensors were obtained with fluorescent proteins attached to the same binding PBP lobe, suggesting that indirect allosteric regulation during the hinge-bending motion is sufficient to give rise to a FRET response. The optimization of sensors for glucose and glutamate, ligands of great clinical interest, provides a general framework for the manipulation of ligand-dependent allosteric signal transduction mechanisms.
Project description:Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) is an important source of long-range distance information in macromolecules. However, extracting maximum information requires knowledge of fluorophore, donor and acceptor, positions on the macromolecule. We previously determined the structure of the indocarbocyanine fluorophores Cy3 and Cy5 attached to DNA via three-carbon atom tethers, showing that they stacked onto the end of the helix in a manner similar to an additional basepair. Our recent FRET study has suggested that when they are attached via a longer 13-atom tether, these fluorophores are repositioned relative to the terminal basepair by a rotation of ?30°, while remaining stacked. In this study, we have used NMR to extend our structural understanding to the commonly used fluorophore sulfoindocarbocyanine-3 (sCy3) attached to the 5'-terminus of the double-helical DNA via a 13-atom flexible tether (L13). We find that L13-sCy3 remains predominantly stacked onto the end of the duplex, but adopts a significantly different conformation, from that of either Cy3 or Cy5 attached by 3-atom tethers, with the long axes of the fluorophore and the terminal basepair approximately parallel. This result is in close agreement with our FRET data, supporting the contention that FRET data can be used to provide orientational information.
Project description:To probe structural changes that occur when a membrane protein is transferred from lipid bilayers to SDS micelles, a fragment of bacteriorhodopsin containing transmembrane helical segments A and B was studied by fluorescence spectroscopy, molecular dynamics (MD) simulation, and stopped flow kinetics. In lipid bilayers, Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) was observed between tyrosine 57 on helix B and tryptophans 10 and 12 on helix A. FRET efficiency decreased substantially when the peptide was transferred to SDS. MD simulation showed no evidence for significant disruption of helix-helix interactions in SDS micelles. However, a cluster of water molecules was observed to form a hydrogen-bonded network with the phenolic hydroxyl group of tyrosine 57, which probably causes the disappearance of tyrosine-to-tryptophan FRET in SDS. The tryptophan quantum yield decreased in SDS, and the change occurred at nearly the same rate as membrane solubilization. The results provide a clear example of the importance of corroborating distance changes inferred from FRET by using complementary methods.
Project description:Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) is an important mechanism for the estimation of intermolecular distances, e.g., in fluorescent labeled proteins. The interpretations of FRET experiments with standard Förster theory relies on the following approximations: (i) a point-dipole approximation (PDA) for the coupling between transition densities of the chromophores, (ii) a screening of this coupling by the inverse optical dielectric constant of the medium, and (iii) the assumption of fast isotropic sampling over the mutual orientations of the chromophores. These approximations become critical, in particular, at short intermolecular distances, where the PDA and the screening model become invalid and the variation of interchromophore distances, and not just orientations, has a critical influence on the excitation energy transfer. Here, we present a quantum chemical/electrostatic/molecular dynamics (MD) method that goes beyond all of the above approximations. The Poisson-TrEsp method for the ab initio/electrostatic calculation of excitonic couplings in a dielectric medium is combined with all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to calculate FRET efficiencies. The method is applied to analyze single-molecule experiments on a polyproline helix of variable length labeled with Alexa dyes. Our method provides a quantitative explanation of the overestimation of FRET efficiencies by the standard Förster theory for short interchromophore distances for this system. A detailed analysis of the different levels of approximation that connect the present Poisson-TrEsp/MD method with Förster theory reveals error compensation effects, between the PDA and the neglect of correlations in interchromophore distances and orientations on one hand and the neglect of static disorder in orientations and interchromophore distances on the other. Whereas the first two approximations are found to decrease the FRET efficiency, the latter two overcompensate this decrease and are responsible for the overestimation of the FRET efficiency by Förster theory.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) between the green fluorescent protein (GFP) variants CFP and YFP is widely used for the detection of protein-protein interactions. Nowadays, several monomeric red-shifted fluorescent proteins are available that potentially improve the efficiency of FRET. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: To allow side-by-side comparison of several fluorescent protein combinations for detection of FRET, yellow or orange fluorescent proteins were directly fused to red fluorescent proteins. FRET from yellow fluorescent proteins to red fluorescent proteins was detected by both FLIM and donor dequenching upon acceptor photobleaching, showing that mCherry and mStrawberry were more efficient acceptors than mRFP1. Circular permutated yellow fluorescent protein variants revealed that in the tandem constructs the orientation of the transition dipole moment influences the FRET efficiency. In addition, it was demonstrated that the orange fluorescent proteins mKO and mOrange are both suitable as donor for FRET studies. The most favorable orange-red FRET pair was mKO-mCherry, which was used to detect homodimerization of the NF-kappaB subunit p65 in single living cells, with a threefold higher lifetime contrast and a twofold higher FRET efficiency than for CFP-YFP. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The observed high FRET efficiency of red-shifted couples is in accordance with increased Förster radii of up to 64 A, being significantly higher than the Förster radius of the commonly used CFP-YFP pair. Thus, red-shifted FRET pairs are preferable for detecting protein-protein interactions by donor-based FRET methods in single living cells.