Capturing the radical ion-pair intermediate in DNA guanine oxidation

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Science Advances  02 Jun 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 6, e1700171
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700171

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Although the radical ion pair has been frequently invoked as a key intermediate in DNA oxidative damage reactions and photoinduced electron transfer processes, the unambiguous detection and characterization of this species remain formidable and unresolved due to its extremely unstable nature and low concentration. We use the strategy that, at cryogenic temperatures, the transient species could be sufficiently stabilized to be detectable spectroscopically. By coupling the two techniques (the cryogenic stabilization and the time-resolved laser flash photolysis spectroscopy) together, we are able to capture the ion-pair transient G+•⋯Cl in the chlorine radical–initiated DNA guanine (G) oxidation reaction, and provide direct evidence to ascertain the intricate type of addition/charge separation mechanism underlying guanine oxidation. The unique spectral signature of the radical ion-pair G+•⋯Cl is identified, revealing a markedly intense absorption feature peaking at 570 nm that is distinctive from G+• alone. Moreover, the ion-pair spectrum is found to be highly sensitive to the protonation equilibria within guanine-cytosine base pair (G:C), which splits into two resolved bands at 480 and 610 nm as the acidic proton transfers along the central hydrogen bond from G+• to C. We thus use this exquisite sensitivity to track the intrabase-pair proton transfer dynamics in the double-stranded DNA oligonucleotides, which is of critical importance for the description of the proton-coupled charge transfer mechanisms in DNA.

  • radical ion-pair intermediate
  • transient species
  • time-resolved detection
  • laser flash photolysis spectroscopy
  • DNA guanine oxidation
  • intrabase-pair proton transfer dynamics

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