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Low energy electron-driven damage in biomolecules

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Abstract.

The damage induced by the impact of low energy electrons (LEE) on biomolecules is reviewed from a radiobiological perspective with emphasis on transient anion formation. The major type of experiments, which measure the yields of fragments produced as a function of incident electron energy (0.1-30 eV), are briefly described. Theoretical advances are also summarized. Several examples are presented from the results of recent experiments performed in the gas-phase and on biomolecular films bombarded with LEE under ultra-high vacuum conditions. These include the results obtained from DNA films and those obtained from the fragmentation of elementary components of the DNA molecule (i.e., the bases, sugar and phosphate group analogs and oligonucleotides) and of proteins (e.g. amino acids). By comparing the results from different experiments and theory, it is possible to determine fundamental mechanisms that are involved in the dissociation of the biomolecules and the production of single- and double-strand breaks in DNA. Below 15 eV, electron resonances (i.e., the formation of transient anions) play a dominant role in the fragmentation of all biomolecules investigated. These transient anions fragment molecules by decaying into dissociative electronically excited states or by dissociating into a stable anion and a neutral radical. These fragments can initiate further reactions within large biomolecules or with nearby molecules and thus cause more complex chemical damage. Dissociation of a transient anion within DNA may occur by direct electron attachment at the location of dissociation or by electron transfer from another subunit. Damage to DNA is dependent on the molecular environment, topology, type of counter ion, sequence context and chemical modifications.

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Sanche, L. Low energy electron-driven damage in biomolecules. Eur. Phys. J. D 35, 367–390 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjd/e2005-00206-6

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Keywords

  • Incident Electron
  • Elementary Component
  • Sequence Context
  • Electron Attachment
  • Molecular Environment