The Photochemical Spin Dynamics of the Vitamin B12 Derivative, Methylcobalamin

Valentina Lukinović, Jonathan R Woodward, Teresa C. Marrafa, Muralidharan Shanmugam, Derren J. Heyes, Samantha J. O. Hardman, Nigel S. Scrutton, Sam Hay, Alistair J. Fielding, Alex R. Jones

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    Derivatives of vitamin B12 are six-coordinate cobalt corrinoids found in humans, other animals and micro-organisms. By acting as enzymatic cofactors and photoreceptor chromophores they serve vital metabolic and photoprotective functions. Depending on the context, the chemical mechanisms of the biologically-active derivatives of B12 – methylcobalamin (MeCbl) and 5’-deoxyadenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl) – can be very different from one another. The extent to which this chemistry is tuned by the upper axial ligand, however, is not yet clear. Here, we have used a combination of time-resolved FT-EPR, magnetic field effect experiments and spin dynamic simulations to reveal that the upper axial ligand alone only results in relatively minor changes to the photochemical spin dynamics of B12. By studying the photolysis of MeCbl, we find that, much like for AdoCbl, the initial (or ‘geminate’) radical pairs are born predominantly in the singlet spin-state and thus originate from singlet excited-state precursors. This is in contrast to the triplet radical pairs and precursors proposed previously. Unlike AdoCbl, the extent of geminate recombination is limited following MeCbl photolysis, resulting in significant distortions to the FT-EPR signal caused by polarization from spin-correlated methyl-methyl radical ‘f-pairs’ formed following rapid diffusion. Despite the photophysical mechanism that precedes photolysis of MeCbl showing a wavelength-dependence, the subsequent spin dynamics appear to be largely independent of excitation wavelength, again much like for AdoCbl. Our data finally provide clarity to what in the literature to date has been a confused and contradictory picture. We conclude that, although the upper axial position of MeCbl and AdoCbl does impact their reactivity to some extent, the remarkable biochemical diversity of these fascinating molecules is most likely a result of tuning by their protein environment.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry B
    Early online date13 May 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

    • Photon Science Institute
    • Manchester Institute of Biotechnology


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