Acidity and proton affinity of hypoxanthine in the gas phase versus in solution: intrinsic reactivity and biological implications.

Research paper by Xuejun X Sun, Jeehiun K JK Lee

Indexed on: 28 Jul '07Published on: 28 Jul '07Published in: Journal of Organic Chemistry


Hypoxanthine is a mutagenic purine base that most commonly arises from the oxidative deamination of adenine. Damaged bases such as hypoxanthine are associated with carcinogenesis and cell death. This inevitable damage is counteracted by glycosylase enzymes, which cleave damaged bases from DNA. Alkyladenine DNA glycosylase (AAG) is the enzyme responsible for excising hypoxanthine from DNA in humans. In an effort to understand the intrinsic properties of hypoxanthine, we examined the gas-phase acidity and proton affinity using quantum mechanical calculations and gas-phase mass spectrometric experimental methods. In this work, we establish that the most acidic site of hypoxanthine has a gas-phase acidity of 332 +/- 2 kcal mol-1, which is more acidic than hydrochloric acid. We also bracket a less acidic site of hypoxanthine at 368 +/- 3 kcal mol-1. We measure the proton affinity of the most basic site of hypoxanthine to be 222 +/- 3 kcal mol-1. DFT calculations of these values are consistent with the experimental data. We also use calculations to compare the acidic and basic properties of hypoxanthine with those of the normal bases adenine and guanine. We find that the N9-H of hypoxanthine is more acidic than that of adenine and guanine, pointing to a way that AAG could discriminate damaged bases from normal bases. We hypothesize that AAG may cleave certain damaged nucleobases as anions and that the active site may take advantage of a nonpolar environment to favor deprotonated hypoxanthine as a leaving group versus deprotonated adenine or guanine. We also show that an alternate mechanism involving preprotonation of hypoxanthine is energetically less attractive, because the proton affinity of hypoxanthine is less than that of adenine and guanine. Last, we compare the acidity in the gas phase versus that in solution and find that a nonpolar environment enhances the differences in acidity among hypoxanthine, adenine, and guanine.