Subnanosecond emission from model DNA oligomers characterized through time-correlated single-photon counting spectroscopy
Skowron, David John
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Exposure of DNA to UV radiation creates electronic excited states that can decay to mutagenic photoproducts. Excited states can return to the electron ground state through deactivation pathways, preventing photochemical damage. Understanding has significantly advanced over the last decade through the applications of time-resolved techniques capable of picosecond and femtosecond time-resolution. While significant strides have been made towards understanding monomeric deactivation pathways, unraveling the complex photophysics of base multimers still presents a significant challenge. This report uses time-resolved fluorescence and ultrafast transient absorbance to analyze model DNA oligomers to understand how fundamental interactions between monomeric constituents influences the dynamics of base multimers. Model single- and double-stranded DNA oligomers were investigated using the time correlated single photon counting technique to address the uncertainty over how to compare results from time-resolved fluorescent and transient absorption techniques. Emission lifetimes ranging from 50 to 200 ps quantitatively agree with lifetimes measured from transient absorption experiments indicating emission observed on timescales greater than a few picoseconds is the result of excimer or charge recombination luminescence. In attempts to further characterize the time-resolved emission from model oligomers adenine oligomers consisting of 2 and 18 base constituents were examined in aqueous water and heavy water solutions. Differences in dynamics between the two oligomers revealed the average number of bases present within a stacked domain influence the dynamics of these systems. Lifetimes of the emission decays were assigned excimer-like states with various degrees of charge-transfer character. Finally, to further demonstrate the importance of base stacking domain length on the dynamics of these systems, time-resolved emission and absorption of the adenine dinucleotide and 18-mer where examined at temperatures ranging from 7 °C - 80 °C. It was observed that the kinetics between the oligomers was noticeably different at lower temperatures, but not at higher temperatures. It was concluded the domain length of the 18-mer was similar to the domain length of the dinucleotide at high temperatures, but not at low temperatures, demonstrating the domain length significant impacts theS photophysics of DNA.