Local probes are indispensable to study protein structure and dynamics with site-specificity. The isonitrile functional group is a highly sensitive and H-bonding interaction-specific probe. Isonitriles exhibit large spectral shifts and transition dipole moment changes upon H-bonding while being weakly affected by solvent polarity. These unique properties allow a clear separation of distinct subpopulations of interacting species and an elucidation of their ultrafast dynamics with two-dimensional infrared (2D-IR) spectroscopy. Here, we apply 2D-IR to quantify the picosecond chemical exchange dynamics of solute-solvent complexes forming between isonitrile-derivatized alanine and fluorinated ethanol, where the degree of fluorination controls their H-bond-donating ability. We show that the molecules undergo faster exchange in the presence of more acidic H-bond donors, indicating that the exchange process is primarily dependent on the nature of solvent-solvent interactions. We foresee isonitrile as a highly promising probe for studying of H-bonds dynamics in the active site of enzymes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry