Super stable fluorescein isothiocyanate isomer I monolayer for total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy
Ryder, Alan G.
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Zarski, Przemyslaw, & Ryder, Alan G. (2018). Super Stable Fluorescein Isothiocyanate Isomer I Monolayer for Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence Microscopy. Langmuir, 34(37), 10913-10923. doi: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.8b02509
Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM) is an important method in surface science and for the analysis of surface-bound macromolecules. Here, we developed and explored the use of a novel fluorescein isothiocyanate isomer I (FITC)-adsorbed monolayer for alignment and validation of TIRFM measurements and configurations. Aqueous solutions of FITC exist as several different protolytic forms (dianionic, anionic, neutral, and cationic) with each form having different emission characteristics. However, the emission behavior of FITC adsorbed on hydrophilic, hydrophobic, and unmodified glass surfaces at different pH was unknown. TIRFM imaging and spectroscopy were used to study FITC and FITC-labeled bovine serum albumin (BSA-FITC) monolayers generated on three different glass surfaces. Monolayer emission intensity, spectra, and the photobleaching profiles were all dependent on pH and the surface properties of the glass. Very strangely, however, at pH 5.0 on hydrophobic surfaces, the FITC monolayers produced were both bright and apparently unbleachable over ∼20 min of imaging (60 s total exposure). During monolayer formation at pH 5.0, we saw clear evidence for concentration-based quenching, indicating high surface coverage. When the monolayer had been rinsed with buffer to remove unbound FITC, we observed an increase in emission intensity during illumination indicative of some form of photoactivated species being present. Eventually, the fluorescence emission stabilized and remained constant for extended periods of time with no evidence of photobleaching. We hypothesize that during the adsorption process (a hydrophobic hydrophobic interaction) there was conversion to the fluorescent quinoid form of FITC. In contrast, at pH 7.4 and 9.6 on hydrophobic surfaces, FITC monolayers had well-defined, fast photobleaching kinetics (decay to ∼50% intensity in 5 10 s). The equivalent BSA-FITC monolayers were slightly brighter, with similar photobleaching kinetics. While the precise mechanism for this unusual behavior is still unknown, all these low-cost monolayers were easily prepared, were reproducible, and can serve as convenient test samples for TIRFM alignment, calibration, and validation prior to undertaking measurements with more sensitive biogenic or biological specimens.