Bond order and charge localization in nucleoside phosphorothioates

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Science  03 May 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4699, pp. 541-545
DOI: 10.1126/science.2984773


In the recent literature on nucleoside phosphorothioate anions the structural formulas show a double bond between phosphorus and sulfur and a single bond between phosphorus and oxygen with a negative charge localized on oxygen. However, a review of physical data on these compounds shows the reverse to be the case; that is, in phosphorothioate anions the P-S bond is a single bond with a negative charge localized on sulfur, while the P-O bond order for exocyclic and nonbridging oxygens is greater than 1, approaching 2 in O-alkyl phosphorothioate monoanions and O,O-dialkyl phosphorothioates. The P-O bond orders in phosphorothioate dianions and trianions approach 1 1/2 and 1 1/3, respectively, owing to delocalization of negative charge among two or three oxygens. These conclusions are based on bond lengths obtained from x-ray crystallographic data and electron diffraction, the magnitudes of the effects of 18O on the 31P-nuclear magnetic resonance chemical shifts of phosphorus in nucleoside [18O]phosphorothioates, the pH-dependence of 17O-NMR chemical shifts in [17O]phosphate and [17O]thiophosphate, the vibrational spectra of thiophosphate di- and trianions, and the pKa (dissociation constant) values for phosphoric and thiophosphoric acids.