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Anal Biochem. 2001 Jan 1;288(1):62-75.

On the possibility of long-wavelength long-lifetime high-quantum-yield luminophores.

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Center for Fluorescence Spectroscopy, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Maryland at Baltimore, 725 West Lombard Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


We describe an approach to creating a new class of luminophores which display both long wavelength emissions exceeding 600 nm and long lifetimes. These luminophores are based on resonance energy transfer (RET) from a long lifetime donor to a short lifetime but long wavelength acceptor. We demonstrated the possibility of obtaining these desirable spectral properties using donors and acceptors noncovalently bound to DNA. The donor was a ruthenium (Ru) metal-ligand complex in which one of the diimine ligands intercalated into double-helix DNA. The acceptors were either nile blue, TOTO-3, or TO-PRO-3. Upon binding of the acceptor to donor-labeled DNA, we found that the acceptor quantum yield was remarkably enhanced so that the wavelength-integrated intensities of the donor and acceptor bound to DNA were many-fold greater than the intensity of the donor and acceptor alone when separately bound to DNA. The origin of this effect is efficient energy transfer from the donor. Under these conditions the effective overall quantum yield approaches that of the acceptor. Importantly, the increased quantum yield can be obtained while maintaining usefully long apparent acceptor lifetimes of 30 to 80 ns. The effect of an increased quantum yield from a low quantum yield donor may find use in assays to detect macromolecular binding interactions. These results suggest the synthesis of covalently linked donor-acceptor pairs with the desirable spectral properties of long wavelength emission, high quantum yield, and moderately long lifetimes for gated detection.

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