Room temperature spectrally resolved single molecule spectroscopy reveals new spectral forms and photophysical versatility of Aequorea Green Fluorescent Protein variants

Christian Blum, Alfred J. Meixner, Vinod Subramaniam

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Abstract

It is known from ensemble spectroscopy at cryogenic temperatures that variants of the Aequorea green fluorescent protein (GFP) occur in interconvertible spectroscopically distinct forms which are obscured in ensemble room temperature spectroscopy. By analyzing the fluorescence of the GFP variants EYFP and EGFP by spectrally resolved single-molecule spectroscopy we were able to observe spectroscopically different forms of the proteins and to dynamically monitor transitions between these forms at room temperature. In addition to the predominant EYFP B-form we have observed the blue-shifted I-form thus far only seen at cryogenic temperatures and have followed transitions between these forms. Further we have identified for EYFP and for EGFP three more, so far unknown, forms with red-shifted fluorescence. Transitions between the predominant forms and the red-shifted forms show a dark time which indicates the existence of a nonfluorescent intermediate. The spectral position of the newly-identified red-shifted forms and their formation via a nonfluorescent intermediate hint that these states may account for the possible photoactivation observed in bulk experiments. The comparison of the single-protein spectra of the red-shifted EYFP and EGFP forms with single-molecule fluorescence spectra of DsRed suggest that these new forms possibly originate from an extended chromophoric π-system analogous to the DsRed chromophore.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4172-4179
Number of pages8
JournalBiophysical journal
Volume87
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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