Tyrosine photophysics during the early stages of β-amyloid aggregation leading to Alzheimer's

Olaf J. Rolinski, Thorben Wellbrock, David J. S. Birch, Vladislav Vyshemirsky

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We have monitored the formation of toxic β-amyloid oligomers leading to Alzheimer's disease by detecting changes in the fluorescence decay of intrinsic tyrosine. A new approach based on the non-Debye model of fluorescence kinetics resolves the complexity of the underlying photophysics. The gradual disappearance of nonmonotonic fluorescence decay rates, at the early stages of aggregation as larger, tighter-packed oligomers are formed, is interpreted in terms of tyrosine-peptide dielectric relaxation influencing the decay. The results demonstrate the potential for a new type of fluorescence lifetime sensing based on dual excited-state/dielectric relaxation, with application across a broad range of biological molecules. The results also reconcile previously conflicting models of protein intrinsic fluorescence decay based on rotamers or dielectric relaxation by illustrating conditions under which both are manifest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3116-3120
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number15
Early online date24 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2015


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • non-Debye kinetics
  • protein fluorescence
  • tyrosine
  • β-amyloid aggregation


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