American Chemical Society
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Giving the Green Light to Photochemical Uncaging of Large Biomolecules in High Vacuum

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-10-16, 13:36 authored by Yong Hua, Marcel Strauss, Sergey Fisher, Martin F. X. Mauser, Pierre Manchet, Martina Smacchia, Philipp Geyer, Armin Shayeghi, Michael Pfeffer, Tim Henri Eggenweiler, Steven Daly, Jan Commandeur, Marcel Mayor, Markus Arndt, Tomáš Šolomek, Valentin Köhler
The isolation of biomolecules in a high vacuum enables experiments on fragile species in the absence of a perturbing environment. Since many molecular properties are influenced by local electric fields, here we seek to gain control over the number of charges on a biopolymer by photochemical uncaging. We present the design, modeling, and synthesis of photoactive molecular tags, their labeling to peptides and proteins as well as their photochemical validation in solution and in the gas phase. The tailored tags can be selectively cleaved off at a well-defined time and without the need for any external charge-transferring agents. The energy of a single or two green photons can already trigger the process, and it is soft enough to ensure the integrity of the released biomolecular cargo. We exploit differences in the cleavage pathways in solution and in vacuum and observe a surprising robustness in upscaling the approach from a model system to genuine proteins. The interaction wavelength of 532 nm is compatible with various biomolecular entities, such as oligonucleotides or oligosaccharides.