Fluorescence Quenching of Xanthene Dyes during Amide Bond Formation Using DMTMM

Kristen N. Patterson, Misael A. Romero-Reyes, Jennifer M. Heemstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fluorophore bioconjugation to proteins, nucleic acids, and other important molecules can provide a powerful approach to sensing, imaging, and quantifying chemical and biological processes. One of the most prevalent methods for fluorophore attachment is through the formation of amide bonds, which are often facilitated by coupling agents to activate carboxylic acid moieties for subsequent nucleophilic attack by amines. 4-(4,6-Dimethoxy-1,3,5-triazin-2-yl)-4-methyl-morpholinium chloride (DMTMM) is among the most popular of these coupling agents for bioconjugation due to its ability to facilitate amide bond formation in water. After observing quenching of 5-fluoresceinamine (5-FAM)-conjugated oligonucleotides in the presence of DMTMM, we sought to evaluate the magnitude and scope of this challenge by surveying the effect of DMTMM on a range of fluorescent dyes. A higher quenching effect was consistently observed for xanthene dyes compared to that for cyanine dyes. Further analysis of the impact of DMTMM on FAM shows that quenching occurs independently of whether the dye is free in solution or attached to an oligonucleotide or antibody. Furthermore, we found that FAM-conjugated DNA was unable to recover its fluorescence after the removal of DMTMM, and UV-vis and NMR analyses suggest the formation of new products, such as an adduct formed between FAM and the dimethoxytriazine of DMTMM. As such, DMTMM at high concentrations is not recommended for coupling reactions where targets are fluorescently labeled. This research serves as a word of caution to those utilizing xanthene-containing fluorophores in bioconjugation reactions involving DMTMM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33046-33053
Number of pages8
JournalACS Omega
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 20 2022


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