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An AIMD Study of the CPD Repair Mechanism in Water: Reaction Free Energy Surface and Mechanistic Implications

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journal contribution
posted on 14.04.2011 by Ali A. Hassanali, Dongping Zhong, Sherwin J. Singer
In a series of two papers, we report the detailed mechanism of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer repair in aqueous solvent using ab initio molecular dynamics simulations (AIMD). Umbrella sampling is used to determine the free energy surface for dimer splitting. The two-dimensional free energy surface for splitting of the C5−C5′ and C6−C6′ bonds on the anion surface is reported. The splitting of the C5−C5′ and C6−C6′ bonds occurs on a picosecond time scale. The transition state along the splitting coordinate in the anion state coincides with a maximum in the free energy along the same coordinate on the neutral surface. The implication is that back electron transfer occurring before the anion reaches the transition state leads to reformation of the cyclobutane dimer, while back electron transfer after transit through the transition state, leads to successful repair. On the basis of our calculations for CPD splitting in water, we propose a framework for understanding how various factors, such as solvent polarity, can control repair efficiency. This framework explains why back electron transfer leads predominantly to unsuccessful repair in some situations, and successful repair in others. A key observation is that the same free energy surfaces that control dimer splitting also govern how the back electron transfer rate changes during the splitting process. Configurational changes of the dimer along the splitting coordinate are also documented.