• FL Gervasio, A Laio, M Iannuzzi, M Parrinello,
    Influence of DNA structure on the reactivity of the guanine radical cation
    Oxidative damage of DNA via radical cation formation is a common cause of mutagenesis, cancer and of the physiological changes associated with aging. By using state-of-the-art ab initio molecular dynamics simulations, we study the mechanism that guides the first steps of this process. In the mechanism proposed here, guanine, which among the bases has the lowest oxidation potential, and the phosphate backbone play a crucial role. We found that the rate limiting step is the water protolysis. We illuminate the role of the local environment in considerably lowering the barrier. Of particular relevance in this respect is the role of the phosphate backbone.