Monolayers of silver nanoparticles decrease photobleaching: Application to muscle myofibrils

P. Muthu, N. Calander, I. Gryczynski, Z. Gryczynski, J. M. Talent, T. Shtoyko, I. Akopova, Julian Borejdo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Studying single molecules in a cell has the essential advantage that kinetic information is not averaged out. However, since fluorescence is faint, such studies require that the sample be illuminated with the intense light beam. This causes photodamage of labeled proteins and rapid photobleaching of the fluorophores. Here, we show that a substantial reduction of these types of photodamage can be achieved by imaging samples on coverslips coated with monolayers of silver nanoparticles. The mechanism responsible for this effect is the interaction of localized surface plasmon polaritons excited in the metallic nanoparticles with the transition dipoles of fluorophores of a sample. This leads to a significant enhancement of fluorescence and a decrease of fluorescence lifetime of a fluorophore. Enhancement of fluorescence leads to the reduction of photodamage, because the sample can be illuminated with a dim light, and decrease of fluorescence lifetime leads to reduction of photobleaching because the fluorophore spends less time in the excited state, where it is susceptible to oxygen attack. Fluorescence enhancement and reduction of photobleaching on rough metallic surfaces are usually accompanied by a loss of optical resolution due to refraction of light by particles. In the case of monolayers of silver nanoparticles, however, the surface is smooth and glossy. The fluorescence enhancement and the reduction of photobleaching are achieved without sacrificing the optical resolution of a microscope. Skeletal muscle myofibrils were used as an example, because they contain submicron structures conveniently used to define optical resolution. Small nanoparticles (diameter ∼60 nm) did not cause loss of optical resolution, and they enhanced fluorescence ∼500-fold and caused the appearance of a major picosecond component of lifetime decay. As a result, the sample photobleached ∼20-fold more slowly than the sample on glass coverslips.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3429-3438
Number of pages10
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2008


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