Photoejection of electrons from flavins in polar media

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Science  18 Aug 1978:
Vol. 201, Issue 4356, pp. 616-618
DOI: 10.1126/science.675244


Riboflavin and 12 of its derivatives have been shown to form solvated electrons under ultraviolet irradiation (253.7 nanometers) in various water-methanol solvent mixtures. The highest quantum yield of solvated electrons (about 0.03) was obtained for flavins containing tyrosine on a side chain in the isoalloxazine N-3 or N-10 position. The splitting of hydrogen atoms from excited flavin molecules was also observed. From the results presented here, it can be determined that the semiquinone transients are formed not only by way of the flavin triplet, as usually suggested, but also by the attack of the electrons and hydrogen atoms on flavin molecules in the ground state. This is important, because the flavin radicals remaining after the electron-ejection or hydrogen-splitting processes must also be considered in the subsequent reaction mechanisms. The electron-ejection process from electronically excited flavins has important implications in the photobiology of these compounds.