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J Am Chem Soc. 2009 Apr 1;131(12):4368-77. doi: 10.1021/ja808280j.

The role of adenine excimers in the photophysics of oligonucleotides.

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Instituto de Ciencia Molecular, Universitat de Valencia, Apartado 22085, ES-46071 Valencia, Spain.


Energies and structures of different arrangements of the stacked adenine homodimer have been computed at the ab initio CASPT2 level of theory in isolation and in an aqueous environment. Adenine dimers are shown to form excimer singlet states with different degrees of stacking and interaction. A model for a 2-fold decay dynamics of adenine oligomers can be supported in which, after initial excitation in the middle UV range, unstacked or slightly stacked pairs of nucleobases will relax by an ultrafast internal conversion to the ground state, localizing the excitation in the monomer and through the corresponding conical intersection with the ground state. On the other hand, long-lifetime intrastrand stacked excimer singlet states will be formed in different conformations, including neutral and charge transfer dimers, which originate the red-shifted emission observed in the oligonucleotide chains and that will evolve toward the same monomer decay channel after surmounting an energy barrier. By computing the transient absorption spectra for the different structures considered and their relative stability in vacuo and in water, it is concluded that in the adenine homodimers the maximum-overlap face-to-face orientations are the most stable excimer conformations observed in experiment.

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