The calculated unquenched BSA peak intensities using the empirical equation agreed well with the actual unquenched peak values (R2 = 0.98, mean absolute error = 0.33 RU). The equation is expected to help in rapid estimation of the quenching effect of SWNOM on BSA.
Empirical equation to correct the fluorescence quenching of bovine serum albumin by Suwannee river natural organic matter is discussed.
The EEM data was analyzed by parallel factor analysis with inner filter effect removal.
With an increase in SWNOM concentration, quenching of BSA peak intensity was in the range 29–85%.
Higher ratio of SWNOM to BSA resulted in higher quenching of the peak intensity of BSA.
Fluorescence quenching (quenching) is one of the commonest phenomena in fluorescence analysis, whereby any component (quencher) present in a system or related physico-chemical process reduces the intensity of fluorescence of a sample (fluorophore) (Lakowicz 1983; Eftink 1991). Quenching mechanisms include excited-state reactions, molecular rearrangement, energy transfer, ground-state complex formation, and collisional quenching. Collisional quenching can be further divided into static and dynamic quenching. Although there are numerous studies on quenching mechanisms (Yuan et al. 1998; London & Ladokhin 2002; Soares et al. 2007; Keppler et al. 2014; Joye et al. 2015; Wang et al. 2015; Heo et al. 2016; Ali & Al-Lohedan 2018), an empirical method for quenching correction to enable calculation of the actual concentration of proteinaceous fluorophore substances quenched by humic substances in a sample matrix is still lacking. In earlier studies, the post-chlorination fluorescence for trihalomethane formation potential was found to be quenched by humic substances, leading to reduced accuracy in predicting trihalomethane formation in water samples (Saipetch & Yoshimura 2019). In another experiment, multi-spectroscopic studies revealed static quenching between humic and protein-like substances arising from rearrangement of the secondary polypeptide carbonyl hydrogen bonding network of BSA (Saipetch et al. submitted).
In water sources, the amount of each component in dissolved organic matter (DOM) varies widely (Carstea et al. 2016; Singh et al. 2017). The nature of the various DOMs affects the extent of fluorescence quenching, but no previous study has been designed to investigate the effect of DOM concentration on the level of quenching (Wang et al. 2015; Lin et al. 2017). Saipetch et al. (submitted) found that the protein fluorescence of bovine serum albumin (BSA) is quenched by interaction with Suwanee River natural organic matter (SWNOM), indicating the possibility that the concentration of each of BSA and SWNOM can influence the quenching uniquely. No study has yet demonstrated the correction accuracy of quenching by BSA and SWNOM using empirical methods, however.
The relationships between BSA and SWNOM concentrations on quenching were investigated in this study, leading to the proposal and verification of a method for correcting quenching.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Fluorescence titration was carried out between varying concentrations of SWNOM (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 mg-C/L), and BSA (0.15, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1, 1.25 μmol/L (μM)) was performed. The concentrations of SWNOM and BSA were equivalent to NOM concentrations found in surface water samples. The excitation emission matrix (EEM) data were analyzed using parallel factor analysis with inner filter effect removal (drEEMtoolbox in MATLAB – Murphy et al. 2013). The effect of the BSA and/or SWNOM concentration on BSA's quenched fluorescence intensity was investigated using non-linear regression, on the basis of the hypothesis that the fluorescence intensity of BSA (unquenched BSA fluorescence, peak T location (Figure 1(a2))) in the absence of SWNOM is a function of BSA's quenched intensities in the presence of SWNOM, and the fluorescence intensity of SWNOM alone. (Saipetch & Yoshimura 2019; Saipetch et al. submitted).
RESULT AND DISCUSSION
Impact of SWNOM concentration on BSA fluorescence intensity
PARAFAC components of fluorescence titration between BSA–SWNOM mixtures and BSA alone are shown in Figure 1(a1) and 1(a2). If the inner filter effect is removed by PARAFAC, three distinct peaks, A (Ex/Em 240/448), C (Ex/Em 350/450), and T (Ex/Em 280/344) appear. A clear overlap of BSA and SWNOM fluorescence intensity (Figure 2(a1)) is visible in the emission wavelength range 330–450 nm. All three peaks – A, C and T – are within this wavelength range – Figures 1 and 2(a1). An increase in BSA concentration led to a distinct increase in peak T's fluorescence intensity (Figure 2(a2)). The quenching effect of increases in SWNOM concentration can also be seen in the BSA peak intensity (Figure 2(a2)). There was a linear relationship between SWNOM concentration and the fluorescence intensity of peaks A (R2 = 0.9987) and C (R2 = 0.9991) (Figure 2(b1)), and peak T's fluorescence intensity (R2 = 0.9886) with BSA concentration (Figure 2(b2)).
The fluorescence intensities of BSA at peak T, in the absence of SWNOM, and of SWNOM at peak C were used to represent the concentrations of BSA and SWNOM due to their linear relationship (Figure 2(b1) and 2(b2)). As the SWNOM concentration increased, the quenching of BSA's peak T was between 29 and 85% (Figure 2(c)), and the relationship was linear for every concentration increment of either BSA or SWNOM. Hence, the hypothesis that BSA's fluorescence intensity in the absence of SWNOM is a function of the intensities of quenched fluorescence of BSA in the presence of SWNOM and the fluorescence intensity of SWNOM alone can be said to be true.
Empirical equation for the quantitative impact of SWNOM concentration on BSA fluorescence intensity
Correction of fluorescence quenching by SWNOM
|Peak C (relative unit) .||a .||B .|
|Peak C (relative unit) .||a .||B .|
Values of both the empirical constants ‘a’ and ‘b’ changed with an increase in peak C's relative intensity (Table 1). Coefficient ‘a’ was a linear function of peak C, whereas ‘b’ was a third-order of a polynomial function. Application of a polynomial function of peak C for ‘b’ was considered unnecessary as it produced no improvement in R2 between the modelled and actual fluorescence intensities of unquenched peak T compared to the use of an average value for ‘a’. The calculated intensities of unquenched peak T also agreed well with its actual intensities (R2 = 0.98 and mean absolute error 0.33 RU (Figure 4(b))).
At lower intensities of unquenched peak T fluorescence (1.4–5.7 RU), the variation in modelled unquenched peak T was lower than that at unquenched intensities of 7.7–10.7 RU. The fluorescence intensities in the lower range are comparable to the protein fluorescence intensity of clean water (Tama River, Japan), while intensities higher than that can be considered to arise from increases in organic quencher concentrations from wastewater.
The impact of natural organic matter (SWNOM) concentrations on the fluorescence quenching of a proteinaceous substance (BSA) was studied using fluorescence titration. Increasing the concentration of SWNOM increased its quenching effect on BSA fluorescence intensity, and the magnitude of the quenching was proportional to the SWNOM/BSA ratio in solution. At fixed BSA concentrations, a linear increase in SWNOM concentration lowered the intensity of BSA's peak T fluorescence, while, at fixed SWNOM concentration, an increase in BSA concentration reduced the fluorescence quenching level in line with a power function. When used to correct for fluorescence quenching, Equation (3) fitted well with the actual unquenched and modelled intensities of peak T (Figure 4).
This study was supported financially by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan [S-13-2-3] and JSPS KAKENHI [grant number 18H01566].
DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT
All relevant data are included in the paper or its Supplementary Information.