Valence anions in complexes of adenine and 9-methyladenine with formic acid: Stabilization by intermolecular proton transfer

Kamil Mazurkiewicz, Maciej Harańczy, Maciej Gutowski, Janusz Rak, Dunja Radisic, Soren N. Eustis, Wang Di, Kit H. Bowen

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62 Citations (Scopus)


Photoelectron spectra of adenine-formic acid (AFA-) and 9-methyladenine-formic acid (MAFA-) anionic complexes have been recorded with 2.540 eV photons. These spectra reveal broad features with maxima at 1.5-1.4 eV that indicate formation of stable valence anions in the gas phase. The neutral and anionic complexes of adenine/9-methyladenine and formic acid were also studied computationally at the B3LYP, second-order Møller-Plesset, and coupled-cluster levels of theory with the 6-31++G** and aug-cc-pVDZ basis sets. The neutral complexes form cyclic hydrogen bonds, and the most stable dimers are bound by 17.7 and 16.0 kcal/mol for AFA and MAFA, respectively. The theoretical results indicate that the excess electron in both AFA- and MAFA- occupies a p* orbital localized on adenine/9-methyladenine, and the adiabatic stability of the most stable anions amounts to 0.67 and 0.54 eV for AFA - and MAFA-, respectively. The attachment of the excess electron to the complexes induces a barrier-free proton transfer (BFPT) from the carboxylic group of formic acid to a N atom of adenine or 9-methyladenine. As a result, the most stable structures of the anionic complexes can be characterized as neutral radicals of hydrogenated adenine (9-methyladenine) solvated by a deprotonated formic acid. The BFPT to the N atoms of adenine may be biologically relevant because some of these sites are not involved in the Watson-Crick pairing scheme and are easily accessible in the cellular environment. We suggest that valence anions of purines might be as important as those of pyrimidines in the process of DNA damage by low-energy electrons. © 2007 American Chemical Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1216-1224
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2007


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