Molecular Expression Through Fluorescence: Studies In Probe Design And Aggregation
The present thesis entitled, "Molecular expression through fluorescence: Studies in probe design and aggregation" describes very simple bi-functional donor-acceptor poly-aromatic fluorophores that have been shown to possess distinctive properties depending on the context in which they are studied. In a sense, this work is an effort in exemplifying the inherent diversity and power of "molecular expression", with the central theme here being the phenomenon of fluorescence. The work has been divided into four chapters, each having a self-contained introduction. Chapter 1: First instance of metal ion (Zn2+) sensing exclusively at amphiphilic interfaces. (1 -pyrenyl)rnethyl-bis- [(2-pyridyl)methyl]amine (Pybpa), a simple, bi-functional fluorophore was synthesized. Pybpa has the modular design of a photoinduced electron transfer (PET) based analyte sensor. In Pybpa, a photoinduced electron transfer (PET) operates from the pyrenyl nitrogen (PyCH2-iV) to the excited pyrenyl (Py*) chromophore leading to fluorescence quenching. Zn2+ ion binding to the bis-picolyl (bpa) unit of Pybpa stops the PET process and leads to fluorescence enhancement. Thus Pybpa was able to sense Zn2+" in organic solvents. In water, however, Pybpa showed pronounced aggregation and the probe did not sense any metal ion. Surfactant micelles provide hydrophobic regions in water and the dynamic rnicellar assemblies could disrupt Pybpa aggregates. Pybpa monomers solubilized in micelles were responsive to Zn2+ in the low micro molar concentration range. The metal ion sensing on micelles was reflective of the charge of the interface. The sensing is negligible on cationic surface (CTAB), moderate on negatively charged surface (SDS micelles) and is the most efficient on neutral interface provided by TWEEN-20 micelles. With the Pybpa 'sensor*, no sensing is possible in water and hence the sensing is exclusive to the interface. Pybpa doped in membranous aggregates like phosphatidylcholine (PC) lipid bilayers, exists in monomeric form, and was able to sense Zn . The sensing on phosphatidylcholine (PC) bilayer vesicles was found to depend on the fluidity of the membrane. Zn2^ sensing with interfacially bound probe "was extended to a globular protein bovine serum albumin (BSA). BSA, a carrier protein, can bind hydrophobic molecules as well as metal ions like Zn2f. BSA was shown to disrupt Pybpa aggregation and bind Pybpa in a facile manner. BSA bound Pybpa was able to sense externally added Zn2+. Biological sensing of trace amounts of Zn2+ has been considered important since Zn2+ is crucial for eukaryotic systems. This is the first example of such 'exclusive' interfacial sensing of a metal ion. Chapter 2: Towards understanding and modulating self-assembly of pyrenyl bis-picolyl a mine: Organic nanoparticles that show tunable emission. Pybpa was found to aggregate in water in the size range of 80-250 nm. Evidence of aggregation was seen at concentrations as low as 1 |iM. The nanoscopic particles formed were characterized through transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and dynamic light scattering (DLS). Pybpa in water showed dual emission bands, with one band resernhling the emission from 'monomeric' Pybpa (as seen in solutions in organic solvents) and a broad red-shifted emission band (A,max ~ 480 ran) designated as "aggregate/nanoparticle" emission. Distinct excitation spectra for the two emission bands indicate that the bands (the '390 nm' band and the '480 nm' band) originate through distinct excitation/emission channels. The time resolved emission decay for the 'monomer' emission (397 nm) showed a substantial contribution from a long-lived pyrene-like excited state (x = 103.9 ns, 40% relative amplitude). On the other hand, the decay at 475 nm (for the nanoparticle/aggregate emission band) was considerably faster, with no evidence of any pyrene-like long-lived state. The short lifetimes indicated an exciplex nature of the red-shifted emission band, X-,nax~480 nm. The effect of temperature and urea on these aggregates was examined. The nanoparticles formed even in a concentrated urea solution (7.8 M). The aggregates formed in urea were found to be more emissive, indicating a 'looser' aggregate with reduced fluorescence quenching. Similar results were obtained on heating the aggregate. Increasing the concentration of Pybpa in water causes a change in the nature of the colloids formed as exemplified by increase in aggregate size and a decrease in the polydispersity index. Also seen was a substantial red shift in the 'aggregate emission'. At higher concentrations, the presence of three independent excitation/emission channels was observed. It is likely that a new type of aggregated Pybpa species formed at higher concentration, which emits at longer wavelength (A,rnax~540 nm), In such a scenario, it is possible to tune the emission wavelength by the choice of appropriate wavelength of excitation. Further, there is an opportunity to tailor the emission properties by controlling the aggregation behavior. The modulation of emission is one of the primary goals of research on fluorescent organic nanoparticles. Chapter 3: Photophysical properties of aryl-terpyridines in solution, solid and aggregated state: Unique CT emission from nanoparticles in water. Two aryl terpyridines, 4T-(l-pyrenyl)-2,2l:6'52fl-terpyridine (Pytpy) and 4'-(9-anthryl)-2,2':6',2n-terpyridine (Antpy), where the fluorophoric pyrene or anthracene unit is directly coupled to the terpyridine unit, were synthesized. The aryl terpyridines conjugates can be viewed as donor-acceptor molecules that are conformationally labile, with the possibility of rotation around three single bonds. It was of interest to see as to how conformational effects express themselves in different environments, especially in relation to the possibility of charge separation. Crystal structure data and Serni-empirical AMI calculations revealed a twisted molecular conformation for each of the molecules. Absorption and emission (steady state as well as tirne-resolved) behavior of Pytpy and Antpy in various organic solvents have been presented. The molecules showed only limited conjugation between the two units in the absorption behavior with the degree of conjugation being greater for Pytpy. In the emission behavior, only a single emission band (with a single lifetime) was observed in all organic solvent. Steady state and time resolved fluorescence data suggest the existence of a mixed or coupled, largely 7t—7i* state, with only marginal charge separation. The various photophysical parameters have been determined for the two systems. It appears that in the excited state, the inesomeric interactions show an increase for each of the two aryl-terpyridines, indicating at least a partially planar geometry in the excited state. Some specific solvent effects were observed for the molecules in alcoholic solvents and there was evidence of excited state H-bonding occurs for the aryl terpyridines in polar protic organic solvents, especially methanol. Pytpy and Antpy self-assembled in water over a large concentration range (1-100 |xM) to form spherical nanoparticles in the size range of 150-200 nm, as characterized by TEM and DLS. The absorption spectra for both conjugates showed red shift of the absorption bands in water (-10 nrn) along with significant tailing of the long-wavelength bands. The change in emission behavior in going from solution to the aggregates in water was very dramatic. Multiple, broadened, highly red-shifted emission bands for both Antpy and Pytpy were observed. Quite significantly, a long lifetime component in the emission decay was shown by the conjugates in water as compared to the lifetimes observed in solution. The data points towards a unique CT emission for Antpy and Pytpy aggregates in water. The excitation spectra for the multiple emission bands seen for Pytpy (or Antpy) were observed to be identical. Thus a single ground state population is responsible for emission over the entire range (approximately 420 nin - 600 nm). The existence of multiple emission bands and the large bathochromic shifts are exclusively due to excited state effects in the aggregated state in water. It appears that excited state H-bonding of the tpy N with water helps facilitate the excited state CT. The solid-state behavior of Pytpy and Antpy lias been examined and the emission from the two crystalline solids is very distinct. Antpy emission showed a X,,nax at -430 nm while Pytpy emission peaked at ~ 560 nm. The difference in the solid-state emission behavior exhibited by Pytpy and Antpy is explained through a consideration of the crystal packing for the two molecules. The degree of n-facial stacking was observed to be much greater for Pytpy. The observation of the distinct packing and emission shown by solid Pytpy and Antpy is highly significant if one considers the identical emission shown by the aqueous nanoparticles of the two molecules and brings to fore the 'nanoparticle effect' in water as compared to a simple concentration effect. It was also demonstrated that it was possible to modulate the aggregation of the terpyridines through additives, like metal ions Chapter 4: Pyrenyl terpyridine as a ratiometric fluorescence probe for sensing order and polarity of membranous aggregates. Pytpy was examined for its utility in probing surfactant aggregates, particularly membranous assemblies. la lipid bilayer vesicles made of phosphatidylcholine (PC) lipids (like dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine, DMPC or egg-yolk PC) Pytpy showed an emission profile with marked similarity to that shown by the probe in water. Specifically, a broad red-shifted emission with A,maxin. the 500 nm region was observed. In addition, a peak in the -420 nm region was also seen. Fluorescence anisotropy was used to confirm the presence of vesicle-bound probe. Excitation spectra confirmed the presence of two distinct probe populations, om responsible for the '420 nm9 emission and another population responsible for the multiple, red-shifted emission bands. The emission behavior was indicative of aggregation of Pytpy on the vesicle surface and CT effects operating in conjunction with H-bonding. Fluorescence lifetime measurements, carried out at different Is suggest the CT nature of the red-shifted emission. The aggregation of the probe on the bilayer interface was confirmed by concentration and temperature dependence of the emission profile. The role of water in stabilizing this CT emission on bilayer surfaces was shown with use of a surface dehydrating agent polyethylene glycol (PEG). All these results helped build a model for the behavior of Pytpy in water. Pytpy aggregates on bilayer surface and shows a red-shifted CT emission with stabilization by interfacial water. Thus, the Pytpy 'aggregate' has a shallow, water accessible location in the bilayer. In addition to this, there is another Pytpy population responsible for the emission in the 420 nm region, and this second population might have a comparatively deeper location. The wavelength of the CT emission was sensitive to the polarity of the interface as evidenced "by the results obtained with bilayers made of a number of PC lipids. In general, the X™ax of the CTband showed a red shift with increasing polarity. The increase in polarity also caused an increase in the average lifetime of the probe. Pytpy could distinguish between vesicles made of lipids of different head groups. Aggregates made of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) head group are in general less hydrated than PC lipid assemblies and Pytpy emission reflected this when examined in vesicles made of related lipids (dioleoyl lipids, DOPC and DOPE; dirnyristoyl lipids, DMPC and DMPE). Pytpy emission from PE vesicles was quenched and showed a pronounced blue shift in the emission Xmax vis-a-vis PC bilayers. Thus, dehydration of the interface consistently led to the destabilization of the CT state. Further, Pytpy emission was also responsive to hydration in more complex mixed PC-PE assemblies. Pytpy emission "behavior was also used to probe fluidity in complex "mixed" lipid assemblies- The effect of cholesterol on DMPC bilayers in terms of its known ability to dehydrate the bilayer was reported through a blue-shift Xmax of CT emission band. Further, cholesterol also causes drastic change in the bilayer at concentrations greater than ~ 30 mol%. This change in the bilayer was sensed through a sudden reduction in fluorescence intensity. Also from a careful analysis of Pytpy in various PC and PE vesicles, it emerged that the more fluid aggregates showed larger quantum yields. Thus, Pytpy could simultaneously report on both the polarity and fluidity of lipidic aggregates. Pytpy could also provide information about the order of an assembly. While the probe aggregated in bilayers and other membranous assemblies and showed water assisted CT emission, in more dynamic assemblies like micelles, Pytpy aggregates were not sustained, Pytpy in micelles showed emission spectra very similar to that seen in solutions in aprotic organic solvents. Thus, Pytpy proved to be a very useful ratiometric sensor for vesicle-to-rnicelle transition. Also, it has been possible to study some surfactant-lipid mixed assemblies that show phase separation. Pytpy reported the formation of a 'rigid', bilayer-like phases in mixed assemblies that are called bicelles.
- Organic Chemistry (OC)