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Anal Biochem. 1988 Jul;172(1):61-77.

Mechanism of fluorescence concentration quenching of carboxyfluorescein in liposomes: energy transfer to nonfluorescent dimers.

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Laboratory of Technical Development, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


When 5(6)-carboxyfluorescein (6CF) is encapsulated in liposomes at 0.2 M, 97-98% of the fluorescence is quenched. We have studied the mechanism of this effect. The dye-liposome system is a special case of concentration quenching of dyes, a phenomenon recognized for 100 years. Absorption spectra of encapsulated dye show that 6CF dimerizes, and the dimer is nonfluorescent. The dimerization constant was estimated, and it was concluded that dimerization can account for only part of the quenching. In 6CF solutions, the fluorescence lifetime decreased drastically as concentration was changed over the narrow range 0.02-0.05 M, a finding which was attributed to energy transfer to dimers. Inhibition of dimerization by propylene glycol also inhibited the shortening of lifetime. Förster critical transfer distances were calculated to be 51 and 57 A for monomer-monomer and monomer-dimer transfer, respectively. Monomer-monomer transfer was demonstrated directly by steady-state or time-resolved anisotropy experiments, while transfer to dimer was modeled by using sulforhodamine B, which has a critical transfer distance like that for the dimer and also quenches 6CF emission. No direct evidence for collisional self-quenching of 6CF could be found, although a model compound, salicylate, did quench weakly. For xanthene dyes, the rate of energy transfer is much faster than that for quenching collisions, implying that collisional quenching in the usual 6CF-liposome system is insignificant. The reason why 6CF is not 100% quenched in liposomes is attributed to dye interaction with lipid as evidenced by (i) multiexponential decay of 6CF in liposomes with a long component of 3-4 ns, (ii) inhibition of dimerization in liposomes, (iii) partial protection of dye from quenching by KI, (iv) differing amounts of dimerization in liposomes made from different kinds of phospholipid, and (v) enhancement of fluorescence lifetime in the presence of Triton X-100.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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