Volume 163, 2013

Ultrafast excited state dynamics of the green fluorescent proteinchromophore and its kindling fluorescent protein analogue


Fluorescent proteins exhibit a very diverse range of photochemical behaviour, from efficient fluorescence through photochromism to photochemical reactivity. Remarkably this diverse behaviour arises from chromophores which have very similar structures. Here we describe measurements and modelling of the excited state dynamics in the chromophores of GFP (HBDI) and the kindling fluorescent protein, KFP (FHBMI). The methods are ultrafast fluorescence spectroscopy with sub 50 fs time resolution and the modelling is based on the Smoluchowski equation. The excited state decays of both chromophores are very fast, longer for their anions than for the neutral form and independent of wavelength. Detailed studies show the mean fluorescence wavelength to be independent of time. The excited state decay times are also observed to be a very weak function of solvent polarity and viscosity. These results are modelled utilising recently calculated potential energy surfaces for the ground and excited states as a function of the twist coordinates about the two bridging bonds of the chromophore. For FHBMI and the scarce data on the neutral HBDI the calculations are not successful suggesting the need for refinement of these potential energy surfaces. For HBDI in methanol the simulation is successful provided a strong dependence of the radiationless decay rate on the coordinate is assumed. Such dependence should be included in future calculations of excited state dynamics. When the simulations are extended to more viscous solvents they fail to reproduce the observed weak viscosity dependence. The implications of these results for the nature of the coordinate leading to radiationless decay in the chromophore and for the photodynamics of fluorescent proteins are discussed.

Article information

Article type
19 Feb 2013
01 Mar 2013
First published
01 Mar 2013
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Faraday Discuss., 2013,163, 277-296

Ultrafast excited state dynamics of the green fluorescent protein chromophore and its kindling fluorescent protein analogue

K. Addison, I. A. Heisler, J. Conyard, T. Dixon, P. C. Bulman Page and S. R. Meech, Faraday Discuss., 2013, 163, 277 DOI: 10.1039/C3FD00019B

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