Investigating Visible Intrinsic Fluorescence of Protein Fibers Using Spectroscopic Techniques, Michelle Wang, '23 (3957990)
Proteins are known to have intrinsic fluorescence from aromatic amino acids. Recently however, a new visible intrinsic fluorescence has been identified in protein fibers. This fluorescence does not appear in the monomers, nor does it originate from aromatic amino acids known to emit light when excited. Thus, the mechanism that gives rise to this intrinsic fluorescence in protein fibers is unknown. Using spectroscopic methods, my junior independent project focused on investigating how this weak intrinsic emission from hen egg white lysozyme (HEWL) fibers changed with different parameters, such as whether concentration of lysozyme or polymerization of the lysozyme fibers affected their absorption, emission, and excitation spectra. Understanding the mechanism behind the intrinsic emission of protein fibers can be applied to a variety of subjects on the micro and macro scale—from understanding energy transfer in the cell to developing a noninvasive method of diagnosis for neurodegenerative diseases.