Research & Teaching Faculty

Ultraviolet Photodissociation of Proteinogenic Amino Acids

TitleUltraviolet Photodissociation of Proteinogenic Amino Acids
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsMoore, B, Mahoney, K, Zeng, MFei, Djuricanin, P, MOMOSE, T

The ultraviolet photochemistry of the amino acids glycine, leucine, proline, and serine in their neutral forms was investigated using parahydrogen matrix-isolation spectroscopy. Irradiation by 213 nm light destroys the chirality of all three chiral amino acids as a result of the α-carbonyl C–C bond cleavage and hydrocarboxyl (HOCO) radical production. The temporal behavior of the Fourier-transform infrared spectra revealed that HOCO radicals rapidly reach a steady state, which occurs predominantly due to photodissociation of HOCO into CO + OH or CO2 + H. In glycine and leucine, the amine radicals generated by the α-carbonyl C–C bond cleavage rapidly undergo hydrogen elimination to yield methanimine and 3-methylbutane-1-imine, respectively. Breaking of the α-carbonyl C–C bond in proline appeared to yield 1-pyrroline, although due to its weak absorption it remains unconfirmed. In serine, additional products were formaldehyde and E/Z ethanimine. The present study shows that the direct production of HOCO previously observed in α-alanine generalizes to other amino acids of varying structure. It also revealed a tendency for amino acid photolysis to form imines rather than amine radicals. HOCO should be useful in the search for amino acids in interstellar space, particularly in combination with simple imine molecules.