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Mimic of the Green Fluorescent Protein β‑Barrel: Photophysics and Dynamics of Confined Chromophores Defined by a Rigid Porous Scaffold

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posted on 18.02.2015, 00:00 by Derek E. Williams, Ekaterina A. Dolgopolova, Perry J. Pellechia, Andrei Palukoshka, Thomas J. Wilson, Rui Tan, Josef M. Maier, Andrew B. Greytak, Mark D. Smith, Jeanette A. Krause, Natalia B. Shustova
Chromophores with a benzylidene imidazolidinone core define the emission profile of commonly used biomarkers such as the green fluorescent protein (GFP) and its analogues. In this communication, artificially engineered porous scaffolds have been shown to mimic the protein β-barrel structure, maintaining green fluorescence response and conformational rigidity of GFP-like chromophores. In particular, we demonstrated that the emission maximum in our artificial scaffolds is similar to those observed in the spectra of the natural GFP-based systems. To correlate the fluorescence response with a structure and perform a comprehensive analysis of the prepared photoluminescent scaffolds, 13C cross-polarization magic angle spinning solid-state (CP-MAS) NMR spectroscopy, powder and single-crystal X-ray diffraction, and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy were employed. Quadrupolar spin–echo solid-state 2H NMR spectroscopy, in combination with theoretical calculations, was implemented to probe low-frequency vibrational dynamics of the confined chromophores, demonstrating conformational restrictions imposed on the coordinatively trapped chromophores. Because of possible tunability of the introduced scaffolds, these studies could foreshadow utilization of the presented approach toward directing a fluorescence response in artificial GFP mimics, modulating a protein microenvironment, and controlling nonradiative pathways through chromophore dynamics.