Fluorescence quenching in 2-aminopurine-labeled model DNA systems

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


For the last 50 years changes to the fluorescence properties of 2-aminopurine have been used to probe the structure and dynamics of DNA. 2-Aminopurine's utility has arisen from the quenching of its emission when pi-stacked with neighboring nucleobases. In the time-domain, the emission decay profile of 2-aminopurine requires multiple exponential decay components to model. Despite its extensive usage, the microscopic origin of the decay heterogeneity is not clear. In this thesis, steady-state absorption, fluorescence, and time-resolved fluorescence results are compared to multiple microsecond molecular dynamics simulations of 2-aminopurine-labeled adenine containing single-stranded DNA oligomers of varying length and position of the 2-aminopurine probe. First, previous reports of ultrafast electron transfer in pi-stacked adenine oligomers are used to build a new model for quenching of 2-aminopurine that is pi-stacked with adenine. For dinucleotides, a static distribution of unstacked structures combined with a distance dependent electron transfer mechanism is posited to explain the disperse emission decay timescales. Investigating the dinucleotides with molecular dynamics simulations analyzed with Markov state models quantify the structural heterogeneity of the dinucleotides. At least seven structures are sampled that could alter the quenching of 2-aminopurines's fluorescence. The Markov state models also demonstrate the timescales for transitions between these structures range from 1.6 to 25 ns, suggesting 2-aminopurine, with its monomer-like lifetime of 10 ns, is sensitive to the conformational dynamics of the dinucleotides as well. This dual fluorescence quenching and molecular dynamics simulation approach is extended to 2-aminopurine labeled trinucleotides and 15 base oligomers to interrogate the position dependent structural heterogeneity and conformational dynamics in these systems. Both shifts in the experimental absorption spectra, and molecular dynamics simulations agree that the interior base is more likely to be stacked than the exterior bases. Time-resolved emission experiments reveal emission from 2-aminopurine is quenched faster on the 5' end relative to the 3' end, in agreement with the faster stacking kinetics observed for bases on the 5' end relative to the 3' end obtained from molecular dynamics simulation. These results suggest that the time-resolved emission from 2-aminopurine may serve as an experimental observable for calibration of the dynamical properties predicted by molecular dynamics simulation.




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