Enol tautomers of Watson-Crick base pair models are metastable because of nuclear quantum effects

Alejandro Pérez, Mark E. Tuckerman, Harold P. Hjalmarson, O. Anatole Von Lilienfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Intermolecular enol tautomers of Watson-Crick base pairs could emerge spontaneously via interbase double proton transfer. It has been hypothesized that their formation could be facilitated by thermal fluctuations and proton tunneling, and possibly be relevant to DNA damage. Theoretical and computational studies, assuming classical nuclei, have confirmed the dynamic stability of these rare tautomers. However, by accounting for nuclear quantum effects explicitly through Car-Parrinello path integral molecular dynamics calculations, we find the tautomeric enol form to be dynamically metastable, with lifetimes too insignificant to be implicated in DNA damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11510-11515
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 25 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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