We have investigated the association interactions between the fluorescent dyes TAMRA, Cy3B and Alexa-546 and the DNA deoxynucleoside monophosphates by means of fluorescence quenching and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS). The interactions of Cy3B and TAMRA with the nucleotides produce a decrease in the apparent diffusion coefficient of the dyes, which result in a shift toward longer times in the FCS autocorrelation decays. Our results with Cy3B demonstrate the existence of Cy3B-nucleotide interactions that do not affect the fluorescence intensity or lifetime of the dye significantly. The same is true for TAMRA in the presence of dAMP, dCMP and dTMP. In contrast, the diffusion coefficient of Alexa 546 remains practically unchanged even at high concentrations of nucleotide. These results demonstrate that interactions between this dye and the four dNMPs are not significant. The presence of the negatively charged sulfonates and the bulky chlorine atoms in the phenyl group of Alexa 546 possibly prevent strong interactions that are otherwise possible for TAMRA. The characterization of dye–DNA interactions is important in biophysical research because they play an important role in the interpretation of energy transfer experiments, and because they can potentially affect the structure and dynamics of the DNA.
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