Interaction of Cu+ with cytosine and formation of i-motif-like C–M+–C complexes: alkali versus coinage metals†
The Watson–Crick structure of DNA is among the most well-known molecular structures of our time. However, alternative base-pairing motifs are also known to occur, often depending on base sequence, pH, or the presence of cations. Pairing of cytosine (C) bases induced by the sharing of a single proton (C–H+–C) may give rise to the so-called i-motif, which occurs primarily in expanded trinucleotide repeats and the telomeric region of DNA, particularly at low pH. At physiological pH, silver cations were recently found to stabilize C dimers in a C–Ag+–C structure analogous to the hemiprotonated C-dimer. Here we use infrared ion spectroscopy in combination with density functional theory calculations at the B3LYP/6-311G+(2df,2p) level to show that copper in the 1+ oxidation state induces an analogous formation of C–Cu+–C structures. In contrast to protons and these transition metal ions, alkali metal ions induce a different dimer structure, where each ligand coordinates the alkali metal ion in a bidentate fashion in which the N3 and O2 atoms of both cytosine ligands coordinate to the metal ion, sacrificing hydrogen-bonding interactions between the ligands for improved chelation of the metal cation.