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Biophys J. 1979 Jun;26(3):557-73.

Carbocyanine dye orientation in red cell membrane studied by microscopic fluorescence polarization.


The orientation of an amphipathic, long acyl chain fluorescent carbocyanine dye [diI-C18-(3)] in a biological membrane is examined by steady-state fluorescence polarization microscopy on portions of single erythrocyte ghosts. The thermodynamically plausible orientation model most consistent with the experimental data is one in which the diI-C18-(3) conjugated bridge chromophore is parallel to the surface of the cell and the acyl chains are imbedded in the bilayer parallel to the phospholipid acyl chains. Comparison of the predictions of this model with the experimental data yields information on the intramolecular orientations of the dye's transition dipoles and on the dye's rate of rotation in the membrane around an axis normal to the membrane. To interpret the experimental data, formulae are derived to account for the effect of high aperture observation on fluorescence polarization ratios. These formulae are generally applicable to any high aperture polarization studied on microscopic samples, such as portions of single cells.

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