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Acidity of Adenine and Adenine Derivatives and Biological Implications. A Computational and Experimental Gas-Phase Study

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journal contribution
posted on 31.10.2002, 00:00 by Seema Sharma, Jeehiun K. Lee
The gas-phase acidities of adenine, 9-ethyladenine, and 3-methyladenine have been investigated for the first time, using computational and experimental methods to provide an understanding of the intrinsic reactivity of adenine. Adenine is found to have two acidic sites, with the N9 site being 19 kcal mol-1 more acidic than the N10 site; the bracketed acidities are 333 ± 2 and 352 ± 4 kcal mol-1, respectively. Because measurement of the less acidic site can be problematic, we benchmarked the adenine N10 measurement by bracketing the acidity of 9-ethyladenine, which has the N9 site blocked and allows for exclusive measurement of the N10 site. The acidity of 9-ethyladenine brackets to 352 ± 4 kcal mol-1, comparable to that of the N10 site of the parent adenine. Calculations and experiments with 3-methyladenine, a harmful mutagenic nucleobase, uncovered the surprising result that the most commonly written tautomer of 3-methyladenine is not the most stable in the gas phase. We have found that the most stable tautomer is the “N10 tautomer” 10, as opposed to the imine tautomer 3. The bracketed acidity of 10 is 347 ± 4 kcal mol-1. Since 10 is not a viable species in DNA, 3 is a likely tautomer; calculations indicate that this form has an extremely high acidity (320−323 kcal mol-1). The biological implications of these results, particularly with respect to enzymes that cleave alkylated bases from DNA, are discussed.