Journal of Molecular Modeling

, 20:2453 | Cite as

On the electron affinity of cytosine in bulk water and at hydrophobic aqueous interfaces

  • Esteban Vöhringer-Martinez
  • Ciro Dörner
  • Bernd Abel
Original Paper


In the past one possible mechanism of DNA damage in bulk water has been attributed to the presence of hydrated electrons in water. Recently, one important property of hydrated electrons, namely their binding energy, was reported to be smaller at hydrophobic interfaces than in bulk aqueous solution. This possibly opens up new reaction possibilities with different solutes such as the DNA at hydrophobic, aqueous interfaces. Here, we use QM/MM molecular dynamics simulation to study how the molecular environment at the vacuum-water interface and in the bulk alters the electron affinity of cytosine being a characteristic part of the DNA. The electron affinity at the interface is closer to the corresponding binding energy of the partially hydrated electron. The increased energy resonance makes the electron capture process more probable and suggests that hydrated electrons at hydrophobic interfaces may be more reactive than the fully hydrated ones. Additionally, we found that the relaxation of the anionic form after electron attachment also induces a proton transfer from the surrounding solvent that was confirmed by comparison with the experimental reduction potential.

Graphical Abstract

Probability isodensity surface of the excess electron after its instantaneous capture by cytosine represented by the single occupied molecular orbital of the anion at the geometry of the neutral form


Cytosine QM/MM Electron affinity 



E. V.-M. thanks FONDECYT for financial support provided by Proyecto 11121179, CONICYT, Departamento de Relaciones Internacionales “Programa de Cooperación Científica Internacional” CONICYT/DFG-607 and grant ICM No 120082. B. A. thanks the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for financial support (AB 63/12-1).

Supplementary material

894_2014_2453_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (3 mb)
(PDF 2.96 MB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esteban Vöhringer-Martinez
    • 1
  • Ciro Dörner
    • 1
  • Bernd Abel
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Físico-Química, Facultad de Ciencias QuímicasUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  2. 2.Leibniz Institute of Surface Modification (IOM), Chemical DepartmentLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Wilhelm-Ostwald Institute for Physical and Theoretical ChemistryUniversität LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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