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Excited-State Proton-Transfer-Induced Trapping Enhances the Fluorescence Emission of a Locked GFP Chromophore.


ABSTRACT: The chemical locking of the central single bond in core chromophores of green fluorescent proteins (GFPs) influences their excited-state behavior in a distinct manner. Experimentally, it significantly enhances the fluorescence quantum yield of GFP chromophores with an ortho-hydroxyl group, while it has almost no effect on the photophysics of GFP chromophores with a para-hydroxyl group. To unravel the underlying physical reasons for this different behavior, we report static electronic structure calculations and nonadiabatic dynamics simulations on excited-state intramolecular proton transfer, cis-trans isomerization, and excited-state deactivation in a locked ortho-substituted GFP model chromophore (o-LHBI). On the basis of our previous and present results, we find that the S1 keto species is responsible for the fluorescence emission of the unlocked o-HBI and the locked o-LHBI species. Chemical locking does not change the parts of the S1 and S0 potential energy surfaces relevant to enol-keto tautomerization; hence, in both chromophores, there is an ultrafast excited-state intramolecular proton transfer that takes only 35 fs on average. However, the locking effectively hinders the S1 keto species from approaching the keto S1/S0 conical intersections so that most of trajectories are trapped in the S1 keto region for the entire 2 ps simulation time. Therefore, the fluorescence quantum yield of o-LHBI is enhanced compared with that of unlocked o-HBI, in which the S1 excited-state decay is efficient and ultrafast. In the case of the para-substituted GFP model chromophores p-HBI and p-LHBI, chemical locking hardly affects their efficient excited-state deactivation via cis-trans isomerization; thus, the fluorescence quantum yields in these chromophores remain very low. The insights gained from the present work may help to guide the design of new GFP chromophores with improved fluorescence emission and brightness.

SUBMITTER: Liu XY 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4750082 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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