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1 June 2001 Photophysical Properties of Fluorescent DNA-dyes Bound to Single- and Double-stranded DNA in Aqueous Buffered Solution
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The absorption and fluorescence spectra, fluorescence quantum yields, lifetimes and time-resolved fluorescence spectra are reported for nine different fluorescent DNA-dyes. The work was initiated in search of a quantitative method to detect the ratio of single-to-double stranded DNA (ssDNA/dsDNA) in solution based on the photophysics of dye–DNA complexes; the result is a comprehensive study providing a vast amount of information for users of DNA stains. The dyes examined were the bisbenzimide or indole-derived stains (Hoechst 33342, Hoechst 33258 and 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole), phenanthridinium stains (ethidium bromide and propidium iodide) and cyanine dyes (PicoGreen, YOYO-1 iodide, SYBR Green I and SYBR Gold). All were evaluated under the same experimental conditions in terms of ionic strength, pH and dye–DNA ratio. Among the photophysical properties evaluated only fluorescence lifetimes for the cyanine stilbene dyes allowed a convenient differentiation between ssDNA and dsDNA. The bisbenzimide dyes showed multiexponential decays when bound to either form of DNA, making lifetime-based analysis cumbersome with inherent errors. These dyes also presented biexponential decay when free in aqueous buffered solutions at different pH. A mechanism for their deactivation is proposed based on two different conformers decaying with different kinetics. The phenanthridinium dyes showed monoexponential decays with ssDNA and dsDNA, but there was no discrimination between them. High dye–DNA ratios (e.g. 1:1) resulted in multiexponential decays for cyanine dyes, resulting from energy transfer or self-quenching deactivation. Shifts in both absorption and fluorescence maxima for both ssDNA and dsDNA DNA–cyanine dye complexes were small. Broadening of dye–ssDNA absorption and fluorescence bands for the cyanine dyes relative to dye–dsDNA bands was detected and attributed to higher degrees of rotational freedom in the former.

G. Cosa, K-S. Focsaneanu, J. R N. McLean, J. P. McNamee, and J. C. Scaiano "Photophysical Properties of Fluorescent DNA-dyes Bound to Single- and Double-stranded DNA in Aqueous Buffered Solution," Photochemistry and Photobiology 73(6), 585-599, (1 June 2001).<0585:PPOFDD>2.0.CO;2
Received: 6 December 2000; Accepted: 1 February 2001; Published: 1 June 2001

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