Orientation of Cyanine Fluorophores Terminally Attached to DNA via Long, Flexible Tethers

Jonathan Ouellet, Stephanie Schorr, Asif Iqbal, Timothy J. Wilson, David M. J. Lilley

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    43 Citations (Scopus)


    Cyanine fluorophores are commonly used in single-molecule FRET experiments with nucleic acids. We have previously shown that indocarbocyanine fluorophores attached to the 5'-termini of DNA and RNA via three-carbon atom linkers stack on the ends of the helix, orienting their transition moments. We now investigate the orientation of sulfoindocarbocyanine fluorophores tethered to the 5'-termini of DNA via 13-atom linkers. Fluorescence lifetime measurements of sulfoindocarbocyanine 3 attached to double-stranded DNA indicate that the fluorophore is extensively stacked onto the terminal basepair at 15 degrees C, with properties that depend on the terminal sequence. In single molecules of duplex DNA, FRET efficiency between sulfoindocarbocyanine 3 and 5 attached in this manner is modulated with helix length, indicative of fluorophore orientation and consistent with stacked fluorophores that can undergo lateral motion. We conclude that terminal stacking is an intrinsic property of the cyanine fluorophores irrespective of the length of the tether and the presence or absence of sulfonyl groups. However, compared to short-tether indocarbocyanine, the mean rotational relationship between the two fluorophores is changed by similar to 60 degrees for the long-tether sulfoindocarbocyanine fluorophores. This is consistent with the transition moments becoming approximately aligned with the long axis of the terminal basepair for the long-linker species.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1148-1154
    Number of pages7
    JournalBiophysical Journal
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2011


    • FRET
    • CY3
    • ACIDS
    • TOOL


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