Probing the heterogeneous structure of eumelanin using ultrafast vibrational fingerprinting.
ABSTRACT: Eumelanin is a brown-black biological pigment with sunscreen and radical scavenging functions important to numerous organisms. Eumelanin is also a promising redox-active material for energy conversion and storage, but the chemical structures present in this heterogeneous pigment remain unknown, limiting understanding of the properties of its light-responsive subunits. Here, we introduce an ultrafast vibrational fingerprinting approach for probing the structure and interactions of chromophores in heterogeneous materials like eumelanin. Specifically, transient vibrational spectra in the double-bond stretching region are recorded for subsets of electronic chromophores photoselected by an ultrafast excitation pulse tuned through the UV-visible spectrum. All subsets show a common vibrational fingerprint, indicating that the diverse electronic absorbers in eumelanin, regardless of transition energy, contain the same distribution of IR-active functional groups. Aggregation of chromophores diverse in oxidation state is the key structural property underlying the universal, ultrafast deactivation behavior of eumelanin in response to photoexcitation with any wavelength.
Project description:Boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY) chromophores have a wide range of applications, spanning areas from biological imaging to solar energy conversion. Understanding the ultrafast dynamics of electronically excited BODIPY chromophores could lead to further advances in these areas. In this work, we characterize and compare the ultrafast dynamics of halogenated BODIPY chromophores through applying two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy (2DES). Through our studies, we demonstrate a new data analysis procedure for extracting the dynamic Stokes shift from 2DES spectra revealing an ultrafast solvent relaxation. In addition, we extract the frequency of the vibrational modes that are strongly coupled to the electronic excitation, and compare the results of structurally different BODIPY chromophores. We interpret our results with the aid of DFT calculations, finding that structural modifications lead to changes in the frequency, identity, and magnitude of Franck-Condon active vibrational modes. We attribute these changes to differences in the electron density of the electronic states of the structurally different BODIPY chromophores.
Project description:The integration of the pristine not-doped commercial poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) PH1000 with eumelanin, the brown to black kind of melanin pigment, was achieved by dissolving the melanogenic precursors 2-carboxy-5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHICA) in the PH1000 suspension. Solid state oxidative polymerization of the catecholic indole allowed obtaining the ternary blend PEDOT:PSS/eumelanin. The introduction of DHICA into PH1000 produced a noticeable increase in the conductivity of PEDOT thin films akin to that produced by dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) treatment, opening up novel strategies for the simultaneous integration of eumelanin polymer and conductivity enhancement of PEDOT containing coatings, as well as the long term goal of replacing PSS by DHICA eumelanin for PEDOT pairing.
Project description:Pigment-based plumage coloration and its physiological properties have attracted many researchers to explain the evolution of such ornamental traits. These studies, however, assume the functional importance of the predominant pigment while ignoring that of other minor pigments, and few studies have focused on the composition of these pigments. Using the pheomelanin-based plumage in two swallow species, we studied the allocation of two pigments (the predominant pigment, pheomelanin, and the minor pigment, eumelanin) in relation to physiological properties and viability in populations under a natural and sexual selection. This is indispensable for studying the evolution of pheomelanin-based plumage coloration. Pheomelanin and eumelanin share the same pathway only during their initial stages of development, which can be a key to unravel the functional importance of pigment allocation and thus of plumage coloration. Using the barn swallow, Hirundo rustica, a migratory species, we found that plasma testosterone levels increased with increasing the proportion of eumelanin pigments compared with pheomelanin pigments, but not with the amount of pheomelanin pigments, during the mating period. In the Pacific swallow Hirundo tahitica, a nonmigratory congener, we found that, during severe winter weathers, survivors had a proportionally smaller amount of eumelanin pigments compared with pheomelanin pigments than that in nonsurvivors, but no detectable difference was found in the pheomelanin pigmentation itself. These results indicated that a minor pigment, eumelanin, matters at least in some physiological measures and viability. Because the major pigment, pheomelanin, has its own physiological properties, a combination of major and minor pigments provides multiple information to the signal receivers, potentially enhancing the signaling function of pheomelanic coloration and its diversification across habitats.
Project description:The recent development of eumelanin pigment-based blends integrating "classical" organic conducting materials is expanding the scope of eumelanin in bioelectronics. Beyond the achievement of high conductivity level, another major goal lays in the knowledge and feasible control of structure/properties relationship. We systematically investigated different hybrid materials prepared by in situ polymerization of the eumelanin precursor 5,6-dihydroxyindole (DHI) in presence of various amounts of graphene-like layers. Spectroscopic studies performed by solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (ss-NMR), x-ray photoemission, and absorption spectroscopies gave a strong indication of the direct impact that the integration of graphene-like layers into the nascent polymerized DHI-based eumelanin has on the structural organization of the pigment itself, while infrared, and photoemission spectroscopies indicated the occurrence of negligible changes as concerns the chemical units. A tighter packing of the constituent units could represent a strong factor responsible for the observed improved electrical conductivity of the hybrid materials, and could be possible exploited as a tool for electrical conductivity tuning.
Project description:Meradimate is a broad-spectrum ultraviolet absorber used as a chemical filter in commercial sunscreens. Herein, we explore the ultrafast photodynamics occurring in methyl anthranilate (precursor to Meradimate) immediately after photoexcitation with ultraviolet radiation to understand the mechanisms underpinning Meradimate photoprotection. Using time-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, signal from the first singlet excited state of methyl anthranilate shows an oscillatory behavior, i.e., quantum beats. Our studies reveal a dependence of the observed beating frequencies on photoexcitation wavelength and photoelectron kinetic energy, unveiling the different Franck-Condon overlaps between the vibrational levels of the ground electronic, first electronic excited, and ground cationic states of methyl anthranilate. By evaluating the behavior of these beats with increasing photon energy, we find evidence for intramolecular vibrational energy redistribution on the first electronic excited state. Such energy redistribution hinders efficient relaxation of the electronic excited state, making methyl anthranilate a poor choice for an efficient, efficacious sunscreen chemical filter.
Project description:Ultrafast pump-probe measurements can discriminate the two forms of melanin found in biological tissue (eumelanin and pheomelanin), which may be useful for diagnosing and grading melanoma. However, recent work has shown that bound iron content changes eumelanin's pump-probe response, making it more similar to that of pheomelanin. Here we record the pump-probe response of these melanins at a wider range of wavelengths than previous work and show that with shorter pump wavelengths the response crosses over from being dominated by ground-state bleaching to being dominated by excited-state absorption. The crossover wavelength is different for each type of melanin. In our analysis, we found that the mechanism by which iron modifies eumelanin's pump-probe response cannot be attributed to Raman resonances or differences in melanin aggregation and is more likely caused by iron acting to broaden the unit spectra of individual chromophores in the heterogeneous melanin aggregate. We analyze the dependence on optical intensity, finding that iron-loaded eumelanin undergoes irreversible changes to the pump-probe response after intense laser exposure. Simultaneously acquired fluorescence data suggest that the previously reported "activation" of eumelanin fluorescence may be caused in part by the dissociation of metal ions or the selective degradation of iron-containing melanin.
Project description:Tracking the structural dynamics of fluorescent protein chromophores holds the key to unlocking the fluorescence mechanisms in real time and enabling rational design principles of these powerful and versatile bioimaging probes. By combining recent chemical biology and ultrafast spectroscopy advances, we prepared the superfolder green fluorescent protein (sfGFP) and its non-canonical amino acid (ncAA) derivatives with a single chlorine, bromine, and nitro substituent at the ortho site to the phenolate oxygen of the embedded chromophore, and characterized them using an integrated toolset of femtosecond transient absorption and tunable femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (FSRS), aided by quantum calculations of the vibrational normal modes. A dominant vibrational cooling time constant of ~4 and 11 ps is revealed in Cl-GFP and Br-GFP, respectively, facilitating a ~30 and 12% increase of the fluorescent quantum yield vs. the parent sfGFP. Similar time constants were also retrieved from the transient absorption spectra, substantiating the correlated electronic and vibrational motions on the intrinsic molecular timescales. Key carbon-halogen stretching motions coupled with phenolate ring motions of the deprotonated chromophores at ca. 908 and 890 cm-1 in Cl-GFP and Br-GFP exhibit enhanced activities in the electronic excited state and blue-shift during a distinct vibrational cooling process on the ps timescale. The retrieved structural dynamics change due to targeted site-specific halogenation of the chromophore thus provides an effective means to design new GFP derivatives and enrich the bioimaging probe toolset for life and medical sciences.
Project description:Melanin denotes a variety of mammalian pigments, including the dark electrically conductive eumelanin and the reddish, sulfur-containing, pheomelanin. Organic (bio)electronics is showing increasing interests in eumelanin exploitation, e.g., for bio-interfaces, but the low conductivity of the material is limiting the development of eumelanin-based devices. Here, for the first time, we report an abrupt increase of the eumelanin electrical conductivity, revealing the highest value presented to date of 318 S/cm. This result, obtained via simple thermal annealing in vacuum of the material, designed on the base of the knowledge of the eumelanin chemical properties, also discloses the actual electronic nature of this material's conduction.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In cattle, the gene coding for the melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1R) is known to be the main regulator of the switch between the two coat colour pigments: eumelanin (black pigment) and phaeomelanin (red pigment). Some breeds, such as Charolais and Simmental, exhibit a lightening of the original pigment over the whole body. The dilution mutation in Charolais (Dc) is responsible for the white coat colour of this breed. Using an F2-Backcross Charolais x Holstein population which includes animals with both pigment backgrounds, we present a linkage mapping study of the Charolais dilution locus. RESULTS: A Charolais x Holstein crossbred population was investigated for genetic effects on coat colour dilution. Three different traits representing the dilution of the phaeomelanin, eumelanin, and non-pigment-specific dilution were defined. Highly significant genome-wide associations were detected on chromosome 5 for the three traits analysed in the marker interval [ETH10-DIK5248]. The SILV gene was examined as the strongest positional and functional candidate gene. A previously reported non-synonymous mutation in exon 1 of this gene, SILV c.64A>G, was associated with the coat colour dilution phenotype in this resource population. Although some discrepancies were identified between this mutation and the dilution phenotype, no convincing recombination events were found between the SILV c.64A>G mutation and the Dc locus. Further analysis identified a region on chromosome 28 influencing the variation in pigment intensity for a given coat colour category. CONCLUSION: The present study has identified a region on bovine chromosome 5 that harbours the major locus responsible for the dilution of the eumelanin and phaeomelanin seen in Charolais crossbred cattle. In this study, no convincing evidence was found to exclude SILV c.64A>G as the causative mutation for the Charolais dilution phenotype, although other genetic effects may influence the coat colour variation in the population studied. A region on chromosome 28 influences the intensity of pigment within coat colour categories, and therefore may include a modifier of the Dc locus. A candidate gene for this effect, LYST, was identified.
Project description:A thorough characterization of the early time sub-100 fs relaxation dynamics of biologically relevant chromophores is of crucial importance for a complete understanding of the mechanisms regulating the ultrafast dynamics of the relaxation processes in more complex multichromophoric light-harvesting systems. While chlorophyll a has already been the object of several investigations, little has been reported on chlorophyll b, despite its pivotal role in many functionalities of photosynthetic proteins. Here the relaxation dynamics of chlorophyll b in the ultrafast regime have been characterized using 2D electronic spectroscopy. The comparison of experimental measurements performed at room temperature and 77 K allows the mechanisms and the dynamics of the sub-100 fs relaxation dynamics to be characterized, including spectral diffusion and fast internal conversion assisted by a specific set of vibrational modes.