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A Surprising New Kind of Proton Transfer Print
Monday, 19 March 2012 09:48

Berkeley Lab scientists and their colleagues have discovered an unsuspected way that protons can move among molecules, revealing new opportunities for research in biology, environmental science, and green chemistry.

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Uracil is one of the four bases of RNA (carbon atoms are shown in brown, nitrogen purple, oxygen red, hydrogen white). Because methyl groups discourage hydrogen bonding, methylated uracil should be incapable of proton transfer. But after ionization of methylated uracil dimers, a proton moves by a different route, from one monomer to the other, avoiding the blocked hydrogen bonds.