The effects of detergent [deoxycholate (DOC)] and phospholipid [dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC)] environments on the rotational dynamics of the single tryptophan residue 26 of bacteriophage M13 coat protein have been investigated by using time-resolved single photon counting measurements of the fluorescence intensity and anisotropy decay. The total fluorescence decay of tryptophan-26 is complex but rather similar in DOC as compared to DMPC when analyzed in terms of a lifetime distribution (exponential series method). This similarity, in conjunction with the almost identical steady-state fluorescence spectra, indicates only minor differences between the tryptophan environments in DOC and DMPC. The reorientational dynamics of tryptophan-26 are dominated by slow rotation of the entire protein in both detergent and phospholipid environments. The resolved anisotropy decay in DOC can be approximated by a simple hydrodynamic model of protein/detergent micelle rotational diffusion, although the data indicate slightly greater complexity in the rotational motion. The tryptophan fluorescence anisotropy is not sensitive to protein conformational changes in DOC detected by nuclear magnetic resonance on the basis of pH independence in the range 7.5-9.1. In DMPC bilayers, restricted tryptophan motion with a correlation time of approximately 2 ns is observed together with a second very slow reorientational component. Resolution of the time constant for this slow rotation is obscured by the tryptophan fluorescence time window being too short to clearly locate its anisotropic limit. The possible contribution made by axial rotational diffusion of the protein to this slow rotational process is discussed. The fluorescence intensity and anisotropy decays are sensitive to the DMPC thermal phase transition, indicating that tryptophan-26 is in direct contact with phospholipid acyl chains.
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