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Extended Fluorescent Resonant Energy Transfer in DNA Constructs


This study investigates the use of surfactants and metal cations for the enhancement of long range fluorescent resonant energy transfer (FRET) and the antenna effect in DNA structures with multiple fluorescent dyes. Double-stranded (ds) DNA structures were formed by hybridization of 21mer DNA oligonucleotides with different arrangements of three fluorescent TAMRA donor dyes with two different complementary 21mer oligonucleotides with one fluorescent TexasRed acceptor dye. In such DNA structures, hydrophobic interactions between the fluorescent dyes in close proximity produces dimerization which along with other quenching mechanisms leads to significant reduction of fluorescent emission properties. Addition of the surfactants Triton X-100, cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB) and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) along with sodium cations (Na+) and divalent magnesium cations (Mg2+) were tested for their ability to reduce quenching of the fluorescent dyes and improve overall fluorescent emission, the long range FRET and the antenna effect properties. When the neutral (uncharged) surfactant Triton X-100 was added to the FRET ds-DNA hybrid structures with three TAMRA donors and one TexasRed acceptor, dye dimerization and emission quenching remained unaffected. However, for the positively charged CTAB surfactant at concentrations of 100 uM or higher, the neutralization of the negatively charged ds-DNA backbone by the cationic surfactant micelles was found to reduce TAMRA dye dimerization and emission quenching and improve TexasRed quantum yield, resulting in much higher FRET efficienies and an enhaced antenna effect. This improvement is likely due to the CTAB molecules covering or sheathing the fluorescent donor and acceptor dyes which breaks up the dimerized dye complexes and prevents further quenching from interactions with water molecules and guanine bases in the DNA structure . While the negatively charged SDS surfactant alone was not able to reduce dimerization and emission quenching due to repulsive forces between DNA and SDS micelles, the addition of cations such as sodium ions (Na+) and divalent magnesium ions (Mg2+) did lead to a significant reduction in the dimerization and emission quenching resulting in much higher FRET efficiency and an enhanced antenna effect. It appears that when the repulsive electrostatic forces are screened by the cations (Mg2+ in particular), the SDS micelles can approach the FRET ds-DNA structures thereby sheathing or insulating the TAMRA and TexasRed dyes. Overall, the study provides a viable strategy for using combinations of surfactants and cations to reduce adverse fluorescnt dye and other quenching mechanisms and improve the overall long distance FRET efficiency and the antenna effect in DNA structures with multi-donor and single acceptor fluorescent dye groups.

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