Orientation of nitro-group governs the fluorescence lifetime of nitrobenzoxadiazole (NBD)-labeled lipids in lipid bilayers
Nitrobenzoxadiazole (NBD) labeled lipids are popular fluorescent probes of membrane structure and dynamics, and have been widely used in both model systems and living cells. Irrespective of attachment to the lipid head group or hydrocarbon chains, the NBD fluorophore generally adopts a transverse bilayer location near the host lipid carbonyl/glycerol moieties. Still, considerable variability is observed in the measured fluorescence lifetimes, indicating that overall fluorophore location is not the determinant of NBD fluorescence properties. Combining fluorescence experiments and molecular dynamics simulations, we show that for two almost identical NBD probes, significant differences in fluorophore orientation and fluorescence lifetime are observed. Integrating these findings with literature data, we demonstrate a correlation between NBD orientation and fluorescence lifetime. The latter is longer when the NBD nitro group is predominantly oriented towards the bilayer interior, compared to probes for which it points to the water medium.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2018 PCCP HOT Articles