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Study of organic probes and strategies for DNA fluorescent labelling: From basic photochemistry to super-resolution optical microscopy

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Milena Helmer Lauer
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Carlos.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Instituto de Química de São Carlos
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Marcelo Henrique Gehlen; Roberto Gomes de Souza Berlinck; Carlos Roque Duarte Correia; Johan Maria Victor Hofkens; Andrei Leitão; Hideaki Mizuno; Maarten Blanka Jozef Roeffaers
Advisor: Marcelo Henrique Gehlen

Fluorescence microscopy is one of the most powerful techniques currently available, since it provides the unique combination of a high sensitivity in detection, a high specificity, and a considerable non-invasiveness. Recent developments have allowed the detection at a sub-diffraction resolution, which elevates its potentiality to investigate several systems and hence to go further in science. The study of new fluorescent probes is crucial for the application in advanced methods in optical microscopy. In the first extent of this research, Chapter 2, a photophysical study of maleic anhydride and maleimide derivatives, synthesized by the Heck-Matsuda reaction, was performed. Aiming at the improvement of the design of these molecules, a photochemical cyclization was carried out, resulting in molecules with condensed rings, termed as phenanthrene derivatives, which promoted more photochemical stability. The excited state dynamics rely on the push-pull effect, in which a notable, but not complete, charge shift takes place. For the compounds with a 4-hydroxyl substituent, a charge shift combined with an excited state solvent-assisted proton transfer was observed. Additionally, the confocal microscopy study of the phenanthrene derivatives showed that the local properties of the solvent modulate the fluorescence relaxation dynamics in condensed media and hence such dyes can be potential candidates for use in advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques. The second extent of this thesis, Chapter 3, explores a biological system at the single-molecule level. Specifically, this chapter concerns to an investigation of an optimal sequence-specific DNA fluorescent labelling, using super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. The reactions were performed using a two-step methodology, according to the mTAG approach. In the first step, moieties containing a terminal alkyne, azide, or primary amine group are transferred from an S-adenosyl-L-methionine analogue cofactor to the DNA by a methyltransferase enzyme. Herein, the enzyme M.TaqI was used, which targets the 5\'- TCGA -3\' sequence for modification. In the second step, a fluorophore is coupled to the functional sites of the plasmid (pUC19) using bio orthogonal reactions, such as the click reaction catalysed by copper (CuAAC), the copper-free click reaction (SPAAC), and the amino-to-NHS-ester coupling reaction. A direct one-step approach in which the fluorophore is directly transferred to the DNA from the analogue cofactor in a single reaction step, was also developed. A single-molecule assay was developed for counting the number of fluorophores associated with the individual plasmids. The topology of the plasmids after labelling was also investigated by high-resolution AFM imaging. Combining both analysis, the SPAAC as well as the direct one-step reactions were found to promote near-complete labelling and the AFM showed that the fluorophore coupling did not damage the structure of the plasmids and that their native, supercoiled, morphology was preserved. Moreover, labelled plasmids were successfully applied for transfection into mammalian cells, implying that the DNA retained its ability to encode genetic information, even while carrying bound fluorophores. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 11/08727-1 - Study of organic probes and strategies of DNA fluorescent labelling: from basic photochemistry to super-resolution optical microscopy
Grantee:Milena Helmer Lauer
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)