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Spectroscopic identification of fragment ions of DNA/RNA building blocks: the case of pyrimidine

Chatterjee, Kuntal; Dopfer, Otto

Pyrimidine (Pym, 1,3-diazine, 1,3-diazabenzene) is an important N-heterocyclic building block of nucleobases. Understanding the structures of its fragment and precursor ions provides insight into its prebiotic and abiotic synthetic route. The long-standing controversial debate about the structures of the primary fragment ions of the Pym+ cation (C4H4N2+, m/z 80) resulting from loss of HCN, C3H3N+ (m/z 53), is closed herein with the aid of a combined approach utilizing infrared photodissociation (IRPD) spectroscopy in the CH and NH stretch ranges (νCH/NH) and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. IRPD spectra of cold Ar/N2-tagged fragment ions reveal that the C3H3N+ population is dominated by cis-/trans-HCCHNCH+ ions (∼90%) along with a minor contribution of the most stable H2CCCNH+ and cis-/trans-HCCHCNH+ isomers (∼10%). We also spectroscopically confirm that the secondary fragment resulting from further loss of HCN, C2H2+ (m/z 26), is the acetylene cation (HCCH+). The spectroscopic characterization of the identified C3H3N+ isomers and their hydrogen-bonded dimers with Ar and N2 provides insight into the acidity of their CH and NH groups. Finally, the vibrational properties of Pym+ in the 3 μm range are probed by IRPD of Pym+-(N2)1–2 clusters, which shows a high π-binding affinity of Pym+ toward a nonpolar hydrophobic ligand. Its νCH spectrum confirms the different acidity of the three nonequivalent CH groups.
Published in: Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 10.1039/D0CP02919J, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)