Photophysical evaluation of a new functional terbium complex in FRET-based time-resolved homogenous fluoroassays†
A new functional luminescent lanthanide complex (LLC) has been synthesized with terbium as a central lanthanide ion and biotin as a functional moiety. Unlike in typical lanthanide complexes assembled via carboxylic moieties, in the presented complex, four phosphate groups are chelating the central lanthanide ion. This special chemical assembly enhances the complex stability in phosphate buffers conventionally used in biochemistry. The complex synthesis strategy and photophysical properties are described as well as the performance in time-resolved Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) assays. In those assays, this biotin-LLC transferred energy either to acceptor organic dyes (Cy5 or AF680) labelled on streptavidin or to quantum dots (QD655 or QD705) surface-functionalised with streptavidins. The permanent spatial donor–acceptor proximity is assured through strong and stable biotin–streptavidin binding. The energy transfer is evidenced from the quenching observed in donor emission and from a decrease in donor luminescence decay, both associated with simultaneous increase in acceptor intensity and in the decay time. The dye-based assays are realised in TRIS and in PBS, whereas QD-based systems are studied in borate buffer. The delayed emission analysis allows for quantifying the recognition process and for auto-fluorescence-free detection, which is particularly relevant for application in bioanalysis. In accordance with Förster theory, Förster-radii (R0) were found to be around 60 Å for organic dyes and around 105 Å for QDs. The FRET efficiency (η) reached 80% and 25% for dye and QD acceptors, respectively. Physical donor–acceptor distances (r) have been determined in the range 45–60 Å for organic dye acceptors, while for acceptor QDs between 120 Å and 145 Å. This newly synthesised biotin-LLC extends the class of highly sensitive analytical tools to be applied in the bioanalytical methods such as time-resolved fluoroimmunoassays (TR-FIA), luminescent imaging and biosensing.