Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Kohli, Punit


J E. coli On-Off &ldquo, &rdquo, °, &ndash The specific objectives of the work presented in this dissertation are to design novel molecular sensors based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between fluorophore (donor) and polydiacetylene (PDA, acceptor) for selective detection of biomolecules in solution. The work described in this dissertation is divided into three sections. In the first section, we report here two novel systems where the rate of energy transfer is based on changes in the spectral overlap between the emission of the donor and the absorption of the acceptor (J) as well as changes in the quantum yield of the acceptor. In the second section, we discuss modified these high sensitive molecular sensors based on FRET by using different receptors for selective detection of biomolecules such as proteins or bacteria in solution. The third section develops reversibility studies on FRET based sensors in solution or solid state. In the Chapters two and three, conjugated polydiacetylene (PDA) possessing stimuli-responsive properties have been intensively investigated for developing efficient sensors. Sensors based on FRET between conjugated polymers and fluorophores can be more sensitive than colorimetric based sensors. We use the fluorophore dansyl as the donor and polydiacetylene (PDA) as the acceptor to demonstrate the modulation of FRET efficiency through conformationally induced changes in the PDA absorption spectrum following thermal treatment that converts the PDA backbone of the liposome from the blue form to the red form. We have used steady-state electronic absorption, emission and fluorescence anisotropy (FA) analysis to characterize the thermal-induced FRET between dansyl fluorophores (donor) and PDA (acceptor). Energy transfer was found to be significantly more efficient from dansyl to the red-form PDA. This is due to large increase in the J values between dansyl emission and absorption red-form of PDA. We also have found that the monomer ratio of acceptor to donor (Rad) and length of linkers (functional part that connects dansyl fluorophores to the diacetylene group in the monomer) strongly affected FRET. A decrease in Rad resulted in diminished acceptor emission amplification. This was primarily attributed to lower FRET efficiency between donors and acceptors and a higher background signal. Increase in Rad led to increase probability of FRET from donor to acceptor as larger number of acceptors are present around a given donor. The competition between donor for energy transfer increases with decrease in Rad that contributed to lower FRET efficiency between donors and acceptors. We also found that the FRET amplification of PDA emissions after heating the solution was much higher when dansyl was linked to diacetylene through longer and flexible linkers than through shorter linkers. We attributed this to the insertion of dansyl in the bilayer of the liposomes which led to an increased dansyl quantum yield and a higher interaction of multiple acceptors with limited available donors. This was not the case for shorter and more rigid linkers where PDA amplification was much smaller. Much larger emission amplification for FRET was observed as compared to direct-excitation of PDA. The present studies aim at enhancing our understanding of FRET between fluorophores and PDA-based conjugated liposomes. These findings support the basis of a new sensing platform that utilizes J-modulated FRET as an actuating mechanism. A FRET based protein sensor by using sulforhodamine 101 as donor and PDA as acceptors was developed. This novel FRET based system primarily utilizes changes in J values (the spectral overlap between the emission of the donor and absorption of the acceptor) for the modulation of FRET efficiency between donors and acceptors. These FRET based sensors can be modified by tagged receptors (for proteins, viruses, and bactria) onto PDA liposomes which can interact with ligands present on proteins or bacteria. The biotin-streptavidin interactions were used as a sensing model system to test our FRET sensor response. In chapter 4, four different biotin-tagged lipids were used as receptors to investigate the effect of interactions between ligand-receptors on the FRET efficiency. The biotin was covalently linked to the liposome surface when using biotin-tagged diacetylene; whereas the biotin-tagged lipids with hydrophobic chains but without diacetylene functionalities provided non-covalently inserted lipids in liposomes. These studies were used to elucidate the effect of molecular interactions on FRET sensor response. The conjugated polymerized liposomes consisted of sulforhodamine-tagged-diacetylene and receptors linked lipids in different molar ratios. The characterization of the liposomes and sensing mechanism was investigated using UV-Vis and steady-state emission spectroscopy. The liposome solution yielded a weak donor emission (sulforhodamine 101) from after photo-polymerization of diacetylene monomers. This is due to energy transfer from the donor to PDA backbone chains (acceptors). The addition of streptavidin which interacted with biotin receptors resulted in increase in the sulforhodamine 101 emissions. The stress, due to interactions between biotin and streptavidin, induced the chromatic shift in the absorption spectrum of PDA which led to a decrease in the spectral overlap (J) between the emission spectra of donor and the absorption spectra of acceptor, leading to a decrease in the FRET efficiency from sulforhodamine 101 to PDA. These sensors, thus, show an "On-Off" type optical mechanism based on FRET between fluorophores and PDA where the donor emission was highly quenched in the "Off" state but was turned "On" due to receptor-ligand interactions. Large electronic absorbance and emission intensity differences between covalently and non-covalently bound biotin liposome systems were observed which indicated that the molecular interactions between biotin and PDA backbone play a crucial role in the FRET sensor response. In Chapter 5, we also developed FRET sensor for the detection of E. coli in aqueous media. Two glucose-based receptors were used in this study: (1) glucose-tagged lipid which can be inserted non-covalently in the bilayer of liposome, and (2) glucose-tagged diacetylene monomer in which the receptors were covalently bound to the backbone of the PDA liposome. The steady-state UV/Vis absorbance and fluorescence emission spectroscopy, and the fluorescence microscopy analysis of the receptors-containing liposomes were investigated for the detection of E. coli. The blue shift in the absorption spectrum of the conjugated PDA backbone induced through the interactions between receptors and bacteria resulted in decrease in the spectral overlap between the emission of SR-101 (donor) and the absorption of PDA (acceptor). This, ultimately, led to change in FRET efficiency between SR-101 and PDA after glucose - E. coli binding and caused increase in the emission intensity of SR-101. Polydiacetylenes have been exploited because of their sensitivity to external stimuli, such as temperature, pH, ions, and ligands. Unfortunately, the majorities of the sensors developed are not reversible but used as a one-time use. Here we report our preliminary results of a benzoic acid monomer of polydiacetylene (PDA-mBzA) to investigate reversible FRET characteristics between fluorophore and PDA. The LS films containing dansyl-tagged-diacetylene monomers and m-aminobenzoic acid derivatized- diacetylene monomers in different molar ratios were self-assembled and polymerized. The UV/Vis and steady-state fluorescence emission analysis of these LS films were investigated. These systems have shown partial reversible FRET over many "on-off" cycles. We believe that this incomplete FRET reversibility is due to liposomes preparation conditions used for liposomes which decreased PDA-mBzA amount in liposomes. We also reported reversible FRET studies on the liposome solutions, made from the monomer of m-aminobenzoic acid derivatized-10,12-pentacosadiynoic acid (PDA-mBzA) monomers and 11-((5-dimethylaminonaphthalene-1-sulfonyl)amino)undecanoic acid (DAUDA) or dansyl-tagged diacetylene. After photo-polymerization, the solution appeared blue in color at room temperature. Heating and cooling cycles (between 25 ºC and 95 ºC temperature range), illustrated a visible color change from blue to red and a complete return to blue over many thermal cycles. Our preliminary reversible absorption and emission measurements showed that there exist opportunities for reversibility in FRET response. We are now performing more experiments to increase the FRET reversibility in these experiments. Although our system does not display full reversibility, the preliminary absorption and emission measurements strongly suggest that there exist opportunities for fully reversible selective and sensitive FRET-based sensors after further optimization of the system.




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