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Journal of Biomedical Optics

Effect of refractive index on the fluorescence lifetime of green fluorescent protein
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Paper Abstract

The average fluorescence lifetime of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) in solution is a function of the refractive index of its environment. We report that this is also the case for GFP-tagged proteins in cells. Using time-correlated single-photon counting (TCSPC)–based fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) with a confocal scanning microscope, images of GFP-tagged proteins in cells suspended in different refractive index media are obtained. It is found that the average fluorescence lifetime of GFP decreases on addition of glycerol or sucrose to the media in which the fixed cells are suspended. The inverse GFP lifetime is proportional to the refractive index squared. This is the case for GFP-tagged major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins with the GFP located inside the cytoplasm, and also for GPI-anchored GFP that is located outside the cell membrane. The implications of these findings are discussed with regard to total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) techniques where the change in refractive index is crucial in producing an evanescent wave to excite fluorophores near a glass interface. Our findings show that the GFP fluorescence lifetime is shortened in TIRF microscopy in comparison to confocal microscopy.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 May 2008
PDF: 8 pages
J. Biomed. Opt. 13(3) 031218 doi: 10.1117/1.2937212
Published in: Journal of Biomedical Optics Volume 13, Issue 3
Show Author Affiliations
Carolyn L. Tregidgo, King's College London (United Kingdom)
James A. Levitt, King's College London (United Kingdom)
Klaus Suhling, King's College London (United Kingdom)

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