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Title: Structural Characterization of Fluorescent Proteins Using Tunable Femtosecond Stimulated Raman Spectroscopy
The versatile functions of fluorescent proteins (FPs) as fluorescence biomarkers depend on their intrinsic chromophores interacting with the protein environment. Besides X-ray crystallography, vibrational spectroscopy represents a highly valuable tool for characterizing the chromophore structure and revealing the roles of chromophore–environment interactions. In this work, we aim to benchmark the ground-state vibrational signatures of a series of FPs with emission colors spanning from green, yellow, orange, to red, as well as the solvated model chromophores for some of these FPs, using wavelength-tunable femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (FSRS) in conjunction with quantum calculations. We systematically analyzed and discussed four factors underlying the vibrational properties of FP chromophores: sidechain structure, conjugation structure, chromophore conformation, and the protein environment. A prominent bond-stretching mode characteristic of the quinoidal resonance structure is found to be conserved in most FPs and model chromophores investigated, which can be used as a vibrational marker to interpret chromophore–environment interactions and structural effects on the electronic properties of the chromophore. The fundamental insights gained for these light-sensing units (e.g., protein active sites) substantiate the unique and powerful capability of wavelength-tunable FSRS in delineating FP chromophore properties with high sensitivity and resolution in solution and protein matrices. The comprehensive characterization for various FPs across a colorful palette could also serve as a solid foundation for future spectroscopic studies and the rational engineering of FPs with diverse and improved functions.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2003550 1817949
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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