High-Energy Long-Lived Mixed Frenkel-Charge-Transfer Excitons: From Double Stranded (AT)n to Natural DNA

Ignacio Vayá, Johanna Brazard, Miquel Huix-Rotllant, Arun K. Thazhathveetil, Frederick D. Lewis*, Thomas Gustavsson, Irene Burghardt, Roberto Improta, Dimitra Markovitsi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

The electronic excited states populated upon absorption of UV photons by DNA are extensively studied in relation to the UV-induced damage to the genetic code. Here, we report a new unexpected relaxation pathway in adenine-thymine double-stranded structures (AT)n. Fluorescence measurements on (AT)n hairpins (six and ten base pairs) and duplexes (20 and 2000 base pairs) reveal the existence of an emission band peaking at approximately 320 nm and decaying on the nanosecond time scale. Time-dependent (TD)-DFT calculations, performed for two base pairs and exploring various relaxation pathways, allow the assignment of this emission band to excited states resulting from mixing between Frenkel excitons and adenine-to-thymine charge-transfer states. Emission from such high-energy long-lived mixed (HELM) states is in agreement with their fluorescence anisotropy (0.03), which is lower than that expected for π-π∗ states (≥0.1). An increase in the size of the system quenches π-π∗ fluorescence while enhancing HELM fluorescence. The latter process varies linearly with the hypochromism of the absorption spectra, both depending on the coupling between π-π∗ and charge-transfer states. Subsequently, we identify the common features between the HELM states of (AT)n structures with those reported previously for alternating (GC)n: High emission energy, low fluorescence anisotropy, nanosecond lifetimes, and sensitivity to conformational disorder. These features are also detected for calf thymus DNA in which HELM states could evolve toward reactive π-π∗ states, giving rise to delayed fluorescence. High-energy long-lived mixed (HELM) excitons are populated during excited-state relaxation in (AT)n duplexes. They result from mixing between Frenkel excitons and adenine-to-thymine charge-transfer states and extend over at least four bases on both strands. The properties of HELM states (high emission energy, low fluorescence anisotropy, nanosecond lifetime, and sensitivity to conformational disorder) are also detected for natural DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4904-4914
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Volume22
Issue number14
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 24 2016

Keywords

  • DNA
  • excitons
  • fluorescence spectroscopy
  • hypochromism
  • quantum chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry

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