Sub-picosecond proton tunnelling in deformed DNA hydrogen bonds under an asymmetric double-oscillator model
Department of Mathematical Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK
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Accepted: 20 June 2018
Published online: 6 July 2018
We present a model of proton tunnelling across DNA hydrogen bonds, compute the characteristic tunnelling time (CTT) from donor to acceptor and discuss its biological implications. The model is a double oscillator characterised by three geometry parameters describing planar deformations of the H bond, and a symmetry parameter representing the energy ratio between ground states in the individual oscillators. We discover that some values of the symmetry parameter lead to CTTs which are up to 40 orders of magnitude smaller than a previous model predicted. Indeed, if the symmetry parameter is sufficiently far from its extremal values of 1 or 0, then the proton’s CTT under any physically realistic planar deformation is guaranteed to be below one picosecond, which is a biologically relevant time-scale. This supports theories of links between proton tunnelling and biological processes such as spontaneous mutation.
Key words: Living systems: Cellular Processes
© The Author(s), 2018