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Origin, Nature, and Fate of the Fluorescent State of the Green Fluorescent Protein Chromophore at the CASPT2//CASSCF Resolution

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journal contribution
posted on 05.05.2004, 00:00 authored by María Elena Martin, Fabrizia Negri, Massimo Olivucci
Ab initio CASPT2//CASSCF relaxation path computations are employed to determine the intrinsic (e.g., in vacuo) mechanism underlying the rise and decay of the luminescence of the anionic form of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) fluorophore. Production and decay of the fluorescent state occur via a two-mode reaction coordinate. Relaxation along the first (totally symmetric) mode leads to production of the fluorescent state that corresponds to a planar species. The second (out-of-plane) mode controls the fluorescent state decay and mainly corresponds to a barrierless twisting of the fluorophore phenyl moiety. While a “space-saving” hula-twist conical intersection decay channel is found to lie only 5 kcal mol-1 above the fluorescent state, the direct involvement of a hula-twist deformation in the decay is not supported by our data. The above results indicate that the ultrafast fluorescence decay observed for the GFP chromophore in solution is likely to have an intrinsic origin. The possible effects of the GFP protein cavity on the fluorescence lifetime of the investigated chromophore model are discussed.