Subpicosecond Dynamics in Nucleotides Measured by Spontaneous Raman Spectroscopy

P.A. Terpstra, P.A. Terpstra, Cornelis Otto, Jan Greve

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The band widths in Raman spectra are sensitive to dynamics active on a time scale from 0.1 to 10 ps. The band widths of nucleotide vibrations and their dependence on temperature, concentration, and structure are reported. From the experimental band widths and second moments, it is derived that the adenine vibrations at 725, 1336, 1480, and 1575 cm-1, and the uracil vibration at 787 cm-1, are in the fast modulation limit. The correlation times of the perturbations are faster than 0.4 ps. Thermal melting of the helical structure in polynucleotides results in larger band widths, due to an increase in vibrational dephasing and energy relaxation as a consequence of the increased interaction of the base moieties with the solvent molecules. The band width of the 725 cm-1 adenine vibration is dependent on the type and structure of the backbone. It is found to be perturbed by movements of the sugar-phosphate moiety relative to the base. The band width of the 1575 cm-1 adenine vibration is found to be sensitive to the base-pairing interaction. From a comparison of the band widths in polynucleotides with a different base sequence (homopolymer vs alternating purine-pyrimidine sequence), it is concluded that resonant vibrational energy transfer between the base molecules is not important as a relaxation process for the vibrational band widths of nucleotides. Several theoretical models for the interpretation of band widths are discussed. The theory does not take into account the strong hydrogen-bonding nature water and hence fails to describe the observations in nucleotide-water systems. The bands of the carbonyl stretching vibrations are inhomogeneously broadened. The carbonyl groups have a strong dipolar interaction with the polar water molecules and are therefore strongly perturbed by coupling to the heatbath via hydrogen bonds.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)751-763
Number of pages13
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • METIS-129310
  • IR-71434

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