The dansylated derivatives of lysine and ornithine analogues of methotrexate exhibit fluorescence properties characteristic of the dansyl moiety with an excitation at 328 nm and an emission maximum at 580 nm in aqueous media. As in the case of dansyl amino acids, the fluorescence emission is dependent upon the polarity of the medium. In solvents of low dielectric constant there is an enhancement of the dansyl fluorescence intensity as well as a shift to shorter wavelengths. The dansylated analogues show a reduction in the quantum yields as compared to Nϵ-dansyl-l-lysine and 5-(N,N-dimethylamino)-1-naphthalenesulfonic acid. The absorption spectra of the two dansyl analogues are similar to the spectra of the parent basic amino acid precursors but with reduced molar extinction values. The two fluorescent analogues of methotrexate were found to be potent inhibitors of purified dihydrofolate reductases from Lactobacillus casei and from chicken liver. The binding of these fluorescent analogues to either dihydrofolate reductase resulted in 10–15-nm blue shift of the ligand emission maxima and a 2–5-fold enhancement of the emission. These fluorescent properties of the bound ligands indicate a possible interaction of the dansyl moiety with a region on the enzyme molecule which is more hydrophobic relative to the surrounding solvent.
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