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Biophys J. 2000 Mar;78(3):1589-98.

One- and two-photon excited fluorescence lifetimes and anisotropy decays of green fluorescent proteins.

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Photophysics Research Group, Department of Physics and Applied Physics, University of Strathclyde, 107 Rottenrow, Glasgow G4 ONG, Scotland, United Kingdom.


We have used one- (OPE) and two-photon (TPE) excitation with time-correlated single-photon counting techniques to determine time-resolved fluorescence intensity and anisotropy decays of the wild-type Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and two red-shifted mutants, S65T-GFP and RSGFP. WT-GFP and S65T-GFP exhibited a predominant approximately 3 ns monoexponential fluorescence decay, whereas for RSGFP the main lifetimes were approximately 1.1 ns (main component) and approximately 3.3 ns. The anisotropy decay of WT-GFP and S65T-GFP was also monoexponential (global rotational correlation time of 16 +/- 1 ns). The approximately 1.1 ns lifetime of RSGFP was associated with a faster rotational depolarization, evaluated as an additional approximately 13 ns component. This feature we attribute tentatively to a greater rotational freedom of the anionic chromophore. With OPE, the initial anisotropy was close to the theoretical limit of 0.4; with TPE it was higher, approaching the TPE theoretical limit of 0.57 for the colinear case. The measured power dependence of the fluorescence signals provided direct evidence for TPE. The general independence of fluorescence decay times, rotation correlation times, and steady-state emission spectra on the excitation mode indicates that the fluorescence originated from the same distinct excited singlet states (A*, I*, B*). However, we observed a relative enhancement of blue fluorescence peaked at approximately 440 nm for TPE compared to OPE, indicating different relative excitation efficiencies. We infer that the two lifetimes of RSGFP represent the deactivation of two substates of the deprotonated intermediate (I*), distinguished by their origin (i.e., from A* or B*) and by nonradiative decay rates reflecting different internal environments of the excited-state chromophore.

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