Fluorescence lifetime measurements using total internal reflection fluorimetry: Evidence for a conformational change in albumin adsorbed to quartz

M. R. Rainbow, S. Atherton, R. C. Eberhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

We have modified the total internal reflectance fluorimetry (TIRF) method to determine, indirectly, quantum fluorescence yield and thus infer structural changes of adsorbed plasma proteins. We employed a frequency multiplied Nd: YAG pulse laser to excite tryptophan residues of bovine serum albumin (BSA), measuring the resulting fluorescence lifetimes. BSA adsorbed on quartz was investigated at normal pH and under acidic (pH 3.8) conditions at which albumin shape change has been established in bulk solution. Albumin adsorbed at pH 7.2 has a slightly lower lifetime than the bulk solution value, reflecting a population of both native and isomerized forms. Gently washing the adsorbate surface significantly reduces fluorescence lifetime, suggesting retention of more tenacious, conformationally altered molecules. Vigorous washing further reduces fluorescence lifetimes to values close to those obtained in bulk under acidic conditions. Similar alterations in fluorescence lifetimes were observed for heat‐denatured albumin. These results support the hypothesis that adsorbed albumin exists in the form of a two‐layer deposit, each with a possibly different structure. A loosely held layer, consisting of BSA microaggregates and including partially unfolded molecules, exists on the undisturbed surface and is partially removed by gentle washing. Vigorous washing removes all but the most tightly held protein, which exists in a possibly further unfolded configuration. The decrease in fluorescence lifetime of adsorbed BSA implies a corresponding change in quantum yield. A change in quantum yield of BSA tryptophan fluorophors implies that measuring adsorbed protein concentration by intrinsic fluorescence is unreliable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-555
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering

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