Direct evidence for hula twist and single-bond rotation photoproducts.
ABSTRACT: Photoisomerization reactions are quintessential processes driving molecular machines and motors, govern smart materials, catalytic processes, and photopharmacology, and lie at the heart of vision, phototaxis, or vitamin production. Despite this plethora of applications fundamental photoisomerization mechanisms are not well understood at present. The famous hula-twist motion-a coupled single and double-bond rotation-was proposed to explain proficient photoswitching in restricted environments but fast thermal follow-up reactions hamper identification of primary photo products. Herein we describe an asymmetric chromophore possessing four geometrically distinct diastereomeric states that do not interconvert thermally and can be crystallized separately. Employing this molecular setup direct and unequivocal evidence for the hula-twist photoreaction and for photoinduced single-bond rotation is obtained. The influences of the surrounding medium and temperature are quantified and used to favor unusual photoreactions. Based on our findings molecular engineers will be able to implement photo control of complex molecular motions more consciously.
Project description:Double-bond photoisomerization in molecules such as the green fluorescent protein (GFP) chromophore can occur either via a volume-demanding one-bond-flip pathway or via a volume-conserving hula-twist pathway. Understanding the factors that determine the pathway of photoisomerization would inform the rational design of photoswitchable GFPs as improved tools for super-resolution microscopy. In this communication, we reveal the photoisomerization pathway of a photoswitchable GFP, rsEGFP2, by solving crystal structures of cis and trans rsEGFP2 containing a monochlorinated chromophore. The position of the chlorine substituent in the trans state breaks the symmetry of the phenolate ring of the chromophore and allows us to distinguish the two pathways. Surprisingly, we find that the pathway depends on the arrangement of protein monomers within the crystal lattice: in a looser packing, the one-bond-flip occurs, whereas, in a tighter packing (7% smaller unit cell size), the hula-twist occurs.
Project description:Molecular motors convert external energy into directional motions at the nano-scales. To date unidirectional circular rotations and linear motions have been realized but more complex directional trajectories remain unexplored on the molecular level. In this work we present a molecular motor powered by green light allowing to produce an eight-shaped geometry change during its unidirectional rotation around the central molecular axis. Motor motion proceeds in four different steps, which alternate between light powered double bond isomerizations and thermal hula-twist isomerizations. The result is a fixed sequence of populating four different isomers in a fully unidirectional trajectory possessing one crossing point. This motor system opens up unexplored avenues for the construction and mechanisms of molecular machines and will therefore not only significantly expand the toolbox of responsive molecular devices but also enable very different applications in the field of miniaturized technology than currently possible.
Project description:Conical intersections (CIs) are important features of photochemistry that determine yields and selectivity. Traditional CI optimizers require significant human effort and chemical intuition, which typically restricts searching to only a small region of the CI space. Herein, a systematic approach utilizing the growing string method is introduced to locate multiple CIs. Unintuitive MECI are found using driving coordinates that can be generated using a combinatorial search, and subsequent optimization allows reaction pathways, transition states, products, and seam-space pathways to be located. These capabilities are demonstrated by application to two prototypical photoisomerization reactions and the dimerization of butadiene. In total, many reaction pathways were uncovered, including the elusive stilbene hula-twist mechanism, and a previously unidentified product in butadiene dimerization. Overall, these results suggest that growing string methods provide a predictive strategy for exploring photochemistry.
Project description:Green fluorescent protein (GFP) and GFP-like fluorescent proteins owe their photophysical properties to an autocatalytically formed intrinsic chromophore. According to quantum mechanical calculations, the excited state of chromophore model systems has significant dihedral freedom, which may lead to fluorescence quenching intersystem crossing. Molecular dynamics simulations with freely rotating chromophoric dihedrals were performed on green, yellow, and blue fluorescent proteins in order to model the dihedral freedom available to the chromophore in the excited state. Most current theories suggest that a restriction in the rotational freedom of the fluorescent protein chromophore will lead to an increase in fluorescence brightness and/or quantum yield. According to our calculations, the dihedral freedom of the systems studied (BFP > A5 > YFP > GFP) increases in the inverse order to the quantum yield. In all simulations, the chromophore undergoes a negatively correlated hula twist (also known as a bottom hula twist mechanism).
Project description:Photoactivation in the Photoactive Yellow Protein, a bacterial blue-light photoreceptor, proceeds via photoisomerization of the double C?C bond in the covalently attached chromophore. Quantum chemistry calculations, however, have suggested that in addition to double-bond photoisomerization, the isolated chromophore and many of its analogues can isomerize around a single C-C bond as well. Whereas double-bond photoisomerization has been observed with X-ray crystallography, experimental evidence of single-bond photoisomerization is currently lacking. Therefore, we have synthesized a chromophore analogue, in which the formal double bond is covalently locked in a cyclopentenone ring, and carried out transient absorption spectroscopy experiments in combination with nonadiabatic molecular dynamics simulations to reveal that the locked chromophore isomerizes around the single bond upon photoactivation. Our work thus provides experimental evidence of single-bond photoisomerization in a photoactive yellow protein chromophore analogue and suggests that photoisomerization is not restricted to the double bonds in conjugated systems. This insight may be useful for designing light-driven molecular switches or motors.
Project description:In the photochromic reactions of 3H-naphthopyrans, two colored isomers TC (transoid-cis) and TT (transoid-trans) are formed. In terms of optimized photo-switchable materials, synthetic efforts are nowadays evolving toward developing 3H-naphthopyran derivatives that would not be able to photoproduce the long-living transoid-trans, TT, photoproduct. The substitution with a methoxy group at position 10 results in significant reduction of the TT isomer formation yield. The TC photophysics responsible for TT suppression were revealed here using a combination of multi-scale time resolved absorption UV-vis spectroscopy and ab initio calculations. The substitution changes the TC excited-state potential energy landscape, the bicycle-pedal isomerization path is favored over the rotation around a single double bond. The bicycle-pedal path is aborted in halfway to TT formation due to S1?S0 internal conversion populating back the TC species in the ground electronic state. This is validated by a shorter TC S1 state lifetime for methoxy derivative in comparison to that of the parent-unsubstituted compound (0.47 ± 0.05 ps vs. 0.87 ± 0.09 ps) in cyclohexane.
Project description:Proteins that can be reversibly photoswitched between a fluorescent and a nonfluorescent state bear enormous potential in diverse fields, such as data storage, in vivo protein tracking, and subdiffraction resolution light microscopy. However, these proteins could hitherto not live up to their full potential because the molecular switching mechanism is not resolved. Here, we clarify the molecular photoswitching mechanism of asFP595, a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-like protein that can be transferred from a nonfluorescent "off" to a fluorescent "on" state and back again, by green and blue light, respectively. To this end, we establish reversible photoswitching of fluorescence in whole protein crystals and show that the switching kinetics in the crystal is identical with that in solution. Subsequent x-ray analysis demonstrated that upon the absorption of a green photon, the chromophore isomerizes from a trans (off) to a cis (on) state. Molecular dynamics calculations suggest that isomerization occurs through a bottom hula twist mechanism with concomitant rotation of both bonds of the chromophoric methine ring bridge. This insight into the switching mechanism should facilitate the targeted design of photoswitchable proteins. Reversible photoswitching of the protein chromophore system within intact crystals also constitutes a step toward the use of fluorescent proteins in three-dimensional data recording.
Project description:Donor-acceptor Stenhouse adducts (DASAs) are negative photochromes that hold great promise for a variety of applications. Key to optimizing their switching properties is a detailed understanding of the photoswitching mechanism, which, as yet, is absent. Here we characterize the actinic step of DASA-photoswitching and its key intermediate, which was studied using a combination of ultrafast visible and IR pump-probe spectroscopies and TD-DFT calculations. Comparison of the time-resolved IR spectra with DFT computations allowed to unambiguously identify the structure of the intermediate, confirming that light absorption induces a sequential reaction path in which a Z-E photoisomerization of C2-C3 is followed by a rotation around C3-C4 and a subsequent thermal cyclization step. First and second-generation DASAs share a common photoisomerization mechanism in chlorinated solvents with notable differences in kinetics and lifetimes of the excited states. The photogenerated intermediate of the second-generation DASA was photo-accumulated at low temperature and probed with time-resolved spectroscopy, demonstrating the photoreversibility of the isomerization process. Taken together, these results provide a detailed picture of the DASA isomerization pathway on a molecular level.
Project description:The crystal structure of the title compound, C25H24N2O2, at 173?K has monoclinic (C2/c) symmetry. The mol-ecule is located on a crystallographic twofold rotation axis with only half a mol-ecule in the asymmetric unit. The imidazolidine ring adopts a twist conformation, with a twist about the ring C-C bond. The crystal structure shows the anti-clinal disposition of the two (2-hy-droxy-naphthalen-1-yl)methyl substituents of the imidazolidine ring. The structure displays two intra-molecular O-H?N hydrogen bonds, each forming an S(6) ring motif.
Project description:Trans-to-cis isomerization, the key reaction in photoactive proteins, usually cannot occur through the standard one-bond-flip mechanism. Owing to spatial constraints imposed by a protein environment, isomerization probably proceeds through a volume-conserving mechanism in which highly choreographed atomic motions are expected, the details of which have not yet been observed directly. Here we employ time-resolved X-ray crystallography to visualize structurally the isomerization of the p-coumaric acid chromophore in photoactive yellow protein with a time resolution of 100 ps and a spatial resolution of 1.6 Å. The structure of the earliest intermediate (I(T)) resembles a highly strained transition state in which the torsion angle is located halfway between the trans- and cis-isomers. The reaction trajectory of I(T) bifurcates into two structurally distinct cis intermediates via hula-twist and bicycle-pedal pathways. The bifurcating reaction pathways can be controlled by weakening the hydrogen bond between the chromophore and an adjacent residue through E46Q mutation, which switches off the bicycle-pedal pathway.