Photophysical properties and applications of fluorescent probes in studying DNA conformation and dynamics
Fluorescence spectroscopy is a popular technique that has been particularly useful in probing biological systems, especially with the invention of single molecule fluorescence. For example, Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) is one tool that has been helpful in probing distances and conformational changes in biomolecules. In this work, important properties necessary in the quantification of FRET were investigated while FRET was also applied to gain insight into the dynamics of biological molecules. In particular, dynamics of damaged DNA was investigated. While damages in DNA are known to affect DNA structure, what remains unclear is how the presence of a lesion, or multiple lesions, affects the flexibility of DNA, especially in relation to damage recognition by repair enzymes. DNA conformational dynamics was probed by combining FRET and fluorescence anisotropy along with biochemical assays. The focus of this work was to investigate the relationship between dynamics and enzymatic repair. In addition, to properly quantify fluorescence and FRET data, photophysical phenomena of fluorophores, such as blinking, needs to be understood. The triplet formation of the single molecule dye TAMRA and the photoisomerization yield of two different modifications of the single molecule cyanine dye Cy3 were examined spectroscopically to aid in accurate data interpretation. The combination of the biophysical and physiochemical studies illustrates how fluorescence spectroscopy can be used to answer biological questions.