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Molecular beacons with intrinsically fluorescent nucleotides

Martí, Angel A.; Jockusch, Steffen; Li, Zengmin; Ju, Jingyue; Turro, Nicholas J.

We report the design, synthesis and characterization of a novel molecular beacon (MB-FB) which uses the fluorescent bases (FB) 2-aminopurine (AP) and pyrrolo-dC (P-dC) as fluorophores. Because the quantum yield of these FB depend on hybridization with complementary target, the fluorescent properties of MB-FB were tuned by placing the FB site specifically within the MB such that hybridization with complementary sequence switches from single strand to double strand for AP and vice versa for P-dC. The MB-FB produces a ratiometric fluorescence increase (the fluorescence emission of P-dC over that of AP in the presence and absence of complementary sequence) of 8.5 when excited at 310 nm, the maximum absorption of AP. This ratiometric fluorescence is increased to 14 by further optimizing excitation (325 nm). The fluorescence lifetime is also affected by the addition of target, producing a change in the long-lived component from 6.5 to 8.7 ns (Exc. 310 nm, Em. 450 nm). Thermal denaturation profiles monitored at 450 nm (P-dC emission) show a cooperative denaturation of the MB-FB with a melting temperature of 53°C. The thermal denaturation profile of MB-FB hybridized with its target shows a marked fluorescence reduction at 53°C, consistent with a transition from double stranded helix to random coil DNA.


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Nucleic Acids Research

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March 25, 2010