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Title: A perspective of biological supramolecular electron transfer
Authors: Ramasarma, T
Issue Date: Dec-1999
Publisher: NISCAIR-CSIR, India
Abstract: Electron transfer is an essential activity in biological systems. The migrating electron originates from water-oxygen in photosynthesis and reverts to dioxygen in respiration. In this cycle two metal porphyrin complexes possessing circular conjugated system and macrocyclic π-clouds, chlorophyll and heme, play a decisive role in mobilising electrons for travel over biological structures as extraneous electrons. Transport of electrons within proteins (as in cytochromes) and within DNA (during oxidative damage and repair) is known to occur. Initial evaluations did not favour formation of semiconducting pathways of delocalized electrons of the peptide bonds in proteins and of the bases in nucleic acids.Direct measurement of conductivity of bulk material and quantum chemical calculations of their polymeric structures also did not support electron transfer in both proteins and nucleic acids.

   New experimental approaches have revived interest in the process of charge transfer through DNA duplex. The fluorescence on photoexcitation of Ru-complex was found to be  quenched by Rh-complex, when both were tethered to DNA and intercalated in the base stack. Similar experiments showed that damage to G-bases and repair of T-T dimers in DNA can occur by possible long range electron transfer through the base stack. The novelty of this phenomenon prompted the apt name, "chemistry at a distance".

   Based on experiments with ruthenium modified proteins, intramolecular electron transfer in proteins is now proposed to use pathways that include C-C σ-bonds and surprisingly hydrogen bonds which remained out of favour for a long time. In support of this, some experimental evidence is now available showing that hydrogen bond-bridges facilitate transfer of electrons between metal-porphyrin complexes. By molecular orbital calculations over 20 years ago we found that "delocalization of an extraneous electron is pronounced when it enters low-lying virtual orbitals of the electronic  structures of peptide units linked by hydrogen bonds". This review focuses on supramolecular electron transfer pathways that can emerge on interlinking by hydrogen bonds and metal coordination of some unnoticed structures with π-clouds in proteins and nucleic acids, potentially useful in catalysis and energy missions.
Page(s): 379-397
ISSN: 0975-0959 (Online); 0301-1208 (Print)
Appears in Collections:IJBB Vol.36(6) [December 1999]

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