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Acc Chem Res. 2000 Apr;33(4):253-60.

Long-range charge transfer in DNA: transient structural distortions control the distance dependence.

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School of Chemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA.


Damage to DNA is often caused by oxidative reactions. In one such process, an electron is lost from a base, forming its radical cation. Further reaction of the radical cation can lead to permanent change, which results in mutation. This Account is a report on oxidative damage to DNA caused by irradiation of anthraquinone derivatives, which are either randomly bound to the DNA or attached to it covalently at specific locations. Radical cations introduced in the DNA by the excited quinone cause damage both near to it and far away. We describe a mechanism for long-range charge transport in DNA that depends on its spontaneous structural distortion, which we call phonon-assisted polaron hopping. This mechanism, and its extension, provides a framework for understanding the reactions and charge-transport properties of DNA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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