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Nucleic Acids Res. 1997 Jul 15;25(14):2923-9.

Stability, specificity and fluorescence brightness of multiply-labeled fluorescent DNA probes.

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Center for Light Microscope Imaging and Biotechnology and Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, 4400 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


In this work, we studied the fluorescence and hybridization of multiply-labeled DNA probes which have the hydrophilic fluorophore 1-(straightepsilon-carboxypentynyl)-1'-ethyl- 3,3,3', 3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine-5,5'-disulfonate (Cy3) attached via either a short or long linker at the C-5 position of deoxyuridine. We describe the effects of labeling density, fluorophore charge and linker length upon five properties of the probe: fluorescence intensity, the change in fluorescence upon duplex formation, the quantum yield of fluorescence (Phif), probe-target stability and specificity. For the hydrophilic dye Cy3, we have demonstrated that the fluorescence intensity andPhifare maximized when labeling every 6th base using the long linker. With a less hydrophilic dye, a labeling density this high could not be achieved without serious quenching of the fluorescence. The target specificity of multiply-labeled DNA probes was just as high as compared to the unmodified control probe, however, a less stable probe-target duplex is formed that exhibits a lower melting temperature. A mechanism that accounts for this destabilization is proposed which is consistent with our data. It involves dye-dye and dye-nucleotide interactions which appear to stabilize a single-stranded conformation of the probe.

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