Computational Characterization of Novel Malononitrile Variants of Laurdan with Improved Photophysical Properties for Sensing in Membranes

Cecilie Søderlund Kofod, Salvatore Prioli, Mick Hornum, Jacob Kongsted, Peter Reinholdt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Fluorescent probes are powerful tools for improving our understanding of cellular membranes and other complex biological environments. Using simulations, we gain atomistic and electronic insights into the effectiveness of the probes. In the current work, we have used various computational approaches to comprehensively investigate the properties of the fluorescent probe Laurdan and two Laurdan-like probes: AADAL and ECL. In addition, we propose the development of their corresponding novel malononitrile variants, which are computationally characterized herein. For the candidate probes, electronic structure calculations were used to rationalize their optical properties, including their ability for two-photon activation, and molecular dynamics simulations were used to unravel atomistic details of their functioning within lipid bilayers. While Laurdan, AADAL, and ECL were found to have very similar optical and membrane partitioning profiles, their malononitrile variants were found to show significantly improved optical properties, especially in regard to two-photon cross sections, and they appear to retain the desired membrane characteristics of the parent Laurdan molecule.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe journal of physical chemistry. B
Volume124
Issue number43
Pages (from-to)9526-9534
ISSN1520-6106
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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