Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Gabor Patonay


A new Laser Induced Fluorescence Capillary Zone Electrophoresis (LIF-CZE) bioassay to detect and study the catalytic activity of the sulfur assimilating enzyme commonly found in E. coli species; alkanesulfonate monooxygenase (EC is described for the first time. This technique enables the possibility for direct injection onto a capillary for detection without the need for pre-concentration of sample and with minimal sample preparative steps prior to analysis. In this bioassay, a group of Fischer based cyanine dyes and two Oxazine (Nile red) derivatives were designed for further optimization as key Vis-NIR fluorescent substrate. In developing this technique, the test dyes were first assessed for their photophysical properties, based on four criteria; (1) photostable (2) solvatochromism (3) binding affinity towards both the monooxygenase active site and serum albumin and (4) chemical stability in strong electric field strength. Applying key dye characterization procedures including; molar absorptivity determination, quantum yield determination, photostability, solvatochromism and protein interaction studies it was determined that the Fischer indolium cyanine dyes were most suitable for the method development. The data revealed that under the test conditions, reduced flavin, the oxidative monooxygenase catalytically specifically converts the alkylsulfonate substituted cyanine dyes to the corresponding aldehyde. This new bioassay has proven to be quick, portable, sensitive, reliable and the exhibit the possibility of ‘on-the-spot’ detection; advantages not readily realized with other commonly applied techniques such as PCR, SPR, ELISA and GC used to study bacterial sulfur assimilation processes. In addition, recent literature results proposed by other research groups developing similar techniques showed strong reliance on GC analyses. Those assays involve the use of low molecular weight straight chain non-emissive alkanesulfonate substrates. Once enzyme catalysis occurs the aldehyde is formed becomes rather volatile and requires complex and tedious headspace sampling for GC analyses. This feature limits the in vitro applicability and eliminated the possibility in vivo development. Our goal is to further develop, optimize and present this CZE based bioassay as a suitable alternative to the current trends in the field while creating a more robust and sensitive in vitro monooxygenase detection method with the possibilities of in vivo application.