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Probing pH and pressure effects on the apomyoglobin heme pocket with the 2'-(N,N-dimethylamino)-6-naphthoyl-4-trans-cyclohexanoic acid fluorophore.

  • O Sire
  • B Alpert
  • C A Royer
Publication Date
Jun 01, 1996
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography


The environmentally sensitive fluorophore 2'-(N,N-dimethylamino)-6-naphthoyl-4-trans-cyclohexanoic acid (DANCA) has been used to probe the apomyoglobin heme pocket. The unexpected polarity of this domain is generally interpreted as arising from dynamic dipolar relaxation of the peptide dipoles surrounding the heme pocket. In the present work we reexamine the photophysical properties of DANCA in a variety of solvents and complexed with apomyoglobin (apoMb) to further probe the heme pocket environment as a function of external solvent conditions. Absorption and excitation spectra in a number of solvents are consistent with the well-known pi*<--pi (LE) and pi*<--n (CT) electronic absorption transitions observed for naphthylamine derivatives. Dual emission is also a well-documented property of such derivatives. Based on the time scale of the heterogeneity in the decay of the DANCA fluorophore observed in a series of solvents, we propose that the emission properties of DANCA in apoMb are not uniquely attributable to dynamic relaxation events, but also reflect dual emission from both a long-lived, red CT state and the shorter-lived, blue LE state. The pH studies in the range of pH 5-9 of the emission properties of DANCA in apoMb support this hypothesis. They also suggest a specific interaction of DANCA with one or both of the pocket histidyl residues, which leads to a drastic static quenching and red shift of the bound DANCA fluorescence upon protonation. Similar effects are observed with increasing pressure, indicating that these two perturbations alter the DANCA-apoMb complex in a similar fashion. The pressure-induced form of the protein is distinct both energetically and structurally from the previously characterized acid intermediate, in that it is populated above pH 5 and retains a significant degree of integrity of the heme pocket.

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