Stable fluorescent complexes of double-stranded DNA with bis-intercalating asymmetric cyanine dyes: properties and applications Academic Article uri icon


  • The synthesis, proof of structure, and the absorption and fluorescence properties of two new unsymmetrical cyanine dyes, thiazole orange dimer (TOTO; 1,1'-(4,4,7,7-tetramethyl-4,7- diazaundecamethylene)-bis-4-[3-methyl-2,3-dihydro-(benzo-1,3-thiaz ole)-2- methylidene]-quinolinium tetraiodide) and oxazole yellow dimer (YOYO; an analogue of TOTO with a benzo-1,3-oxazole in place of the benzo-1,3-thiazole) are reported. TOTO and YOYO are virtually non-fluorescent in solution, but form highly fluorescent complexes with double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), up to a maximum dye to DNA bp ratio of 1:4, with greater than 1000-fold fluorescence enhancement. The dsDNA-TOTO (lambda max 513 nm; lambda maxF 532 nm) and dsDNA-YOYO (lambda max 489 nm; lambda maxF 509 nm) complexes are completely stable to electrophoresis on agarose and acrylamide gels. Mixtures of restriction fragments pre-labeled with ethidium dimer (EthD; lambda maxF 616 nm) and those pre-labeled with either TOTO or YOYO were separated by electrophoresis. Laser excitation at 488 nm and simultaneous confocal fluorescence detection at 620-750 nm (dsDNA-EthD emission) and 500-565 nm (dsDNA-TOTO or dsDNA-YOYO emission) allowed sensitive detection, quantitation, and accurate sizing of restriction fragments ranging from 600 to 24,000 bp. The limit of detection of dsDNA-TOTO and YOYO complexes with a laser-excited confocal fluorescence gel scanner for a band 5-mm wide on a 1-mm thick agarose gel was 4 picograms, about 500-fold lower than attainable by conventional staining with ethidium bromide.

altmetric score

  • 12

author list (cited authors)

  • Rye, H. S., Yue, S., Wemmer, D. E., Quesada, M. A., Haugland, R. P., Mathies, R. A., & Glazer, A. N.

citation count

  • 555

complete list of authors

  • Rye, HS||Yue, S||Wemmer, DE||Quesada, MA||Haugland, RP||Mathies, RA||Glazer, AN

publication date

  • January 1992