Journal of Fluorescence, 12, 465-479.

Härtel, S., Tykhonova, S., Haas, M., & Diehl, H. A. (2002).

Fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy are powerful techniques to detect dynamic properties in artificial and natural lipid membrane systems. Unfortunately, most fluorescent dyes that sense dynamically relevant membrane parameters are UV sensitive. Their major disadvantage is a high susceptibility to fluorescence bleaching. Additionally, the risk for hazardous damages in biological components generally increases with decreasing excitation wavelength. Therefore the use of non-UV–sensitive membrane dyes would provide significant advantage, particularly for applications in fluorescence microscopy, which usually implies high local excitation intensities. We applied steady-state fluorescence spectroscopy techniques to several UV and non-UV membrane dyes to detect and compare dynamically relevant excitation and emission characteristics. Small unilamellar liposomes (composed of egg yolk phosphatidylcholine) served as a model system for biological membranes. The dynamic properties of the membranes were varied by two independent parameters: the intrinsic cholesterol content (0–50 mol%) and temperature (10–50°C). We tested four non-UV–sensitive membrane dyes: 9-diethylamino-5H-benzophenoxazine-5-one (Nile Red), 4-(dicyanovinyl)julolidine (DCVJ), N-(3-triethylammoniumpropyl)-4-(4-(dibutylamino)styryl) pyridinium dibromide (FM 4-64), and 1,1′-dioctadecyl-3,3,3′,3′-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiIC18). We also tested three derivatives of DiIC18: DiIC16 and DiIC12 differ in acyl chain length and Fast-DiIC18 provides double bonds between hydrocarbon atoms. The spectral results were compared to established fluorescence characteristics of four UV membrane dyes: the anisotropy of 1-6-phenyl-1,3,5,-hexatrien (DPH), two derivatives of DPH (TMA-DPH and COO−-DHP), and the generalized polarization of 6-dodecanoyl-2-dimethyl-aminonaphthalene (Laurdan). Our results indicate that the tested non-UV dyes do not reveal dynamically relevant membrane parameters in a direct manner. However, spectral characteristics make DiIC18, Nile Red, and DCVJ promising probes for the microscopic detection of lateral lipid organization, an indirect indicator of membrane dynamics. In particular, DiIC18 showed very selective shifts in the emission spectra at defined temperatures and cholesterol contents that have not been reported elsewhere.