Fluorophore environments in membrane-bound probes: A red edge excitation shift study
A shift in the wavelength of maximum fluorescence emission toward higher wavelengths, caused by a shift in the excitation wavelength toward the red edge of the absorption band, is termed the Red Edge Excitation Shift (REES). This effect is mostly observed with polar fluorophores in motionally restricted media such as very viscous solutions or condensed phases. In this paper, we report the red edge excitation shift of a membrane-bound phospholipid molecule whose headgroup is covalently labeled with a 7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl (NBD) moiety. When incorporated into model membranes of dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC), the NBD-labeled phospholipid (NBD-PE), exhibits a red edge excitation shift of 10 nm. In addition, fluorescence polarization of NBD-PE in membranes shows both excitation and emission wavelength dependence. The nonpolar membrane probe 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (DPH) does not show red edge excitation shift in model membranes. The lifetime of NBD-PE in DOPC vesicles was found to be dependent on both excitation and emission wavelengths. These wavelength-dependent lifetimes are correlated to the reorientation of solvent dipoles around the excited-state dipole of the NBD moiety in the membrane. The magnitude of the red shift in the emission maximum for NBD-PE was found to be independent of temperature, between 12 and 54 degrees C, and of the physical state (gel or fluid) of the membrane. Taken together, these observations are indicative of the motional restriction experienced by this fluorophore in the membrane. Red edge excitation shift promises to be a powerful tool in probing membrane organization and dynamics.