Photofragmentation specificity of photoionized cyclic amino acids (diketopiperazines) as precursors of peptide building blocks†
The photoionisation and photofragmentation of the two cyclic dipetides cyclo(alanyl-glycine) cGA and cyclo(glycyl-glycine) cGG, have been studied combining experiments and simulations. State selected fragments from the ionized molecules are detected using photo-electron photo-ion coincidence (PEPICO) measurements and specific fragmentation paths are identified and characterized via the use of ion-neutral coincidence maps. The simulations, performed using Quantum Chemistry methods, allow us to infer the fragmentation mechanisms of the ionized and excited molecules. We show that ring opening is followed by emission of the neutral fragments CO and HNCO. In the case of cGG the emission of neutral CO leads to a metastable structure that breaks producing small cationic fragments. The studied cyclic dipeptides evolve under ionizing radiation generating different small aziridin moieties and oxazolidinones. These two species are key reactants to elongate producing peptide chains. The corresponding mechanisms have been computed and show that the reaction requires very low energy and may occur in the presence of ionizing radiation.