Characterization of Nucleobase Analogue FRET Acceptor tC(nitro)
Journal article, 2010
The fluorescent nucleobase analogues of the tricyclic cytosine (tC) family, tC and tC(O), possess high fluorescence quantum yields and single fluorescence lifetimes, even after incorporation into double-stranded DNA, which make these base analogues particularly useful as fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) probes. Recently, we reported the first all-nucleobase FRET pair consisting of tC(O) as the donor and the novel tC(nitro) as the acceptor. The rigid and well-defined position of this FRET pair inside the DNA double helix, and consequently excellent control of the orientation factor in the FRET efficiency, are very promising features for future studies of nucleic acid structures. Here, we provide the necessary spectroscopic and photophysical characterization Of tC(nitro) needed in order to utilize this probe as a FRET acceptor in nucleic acids. The lowest energy absorption band from 375 to 525 nm is shown to be the result of a single in-plane polarized electronic transition oriented similar to 27 degrees from the molecular long axis, This band overlaps the emission bands of both tC and tC(O), and the Forster characteristics of these donor-acceptor pairs are calculated for double-stranded DNA scenarios. In addition, the UV-vis absorption of tC(nitro) is monitored in a broad pH range and the neutral form is found to be totally predominant under physiological conditions with a pK(a) of 11.1. The structure and electronic spectrum Of tC(nitro) is further characterized by density functional theory calculations.