Computer simulations of quantum tunnelling in enzyme-catalysed hydrogen transfer reactions
Hydrogen quantum mechanical tunneling has been suggested to play a role in a wide variety of hydrogen-transfer reactions in chemistry and enzymology. An important experimental criterion for tunneling is based on the breakdown of the semiclassical prediction for the relationship among the rates of the three isotopes of hydrogen (hydrogen -H, deuterium -D, and tritium -T). This is denoted the Swain-Schaad relationship. This study examines the breakdown of the Swain-Schaad relationship as criterion for tunneling. The semiclassical (no tunneling) limit used hereto (e.g., 3.34, for H/T to D/T kinetic isotope effects), was based on simple theoretical considerations of a diatomic cleavage of a stable covalent bond, for example, a C-H bond. Yet, most experimental evidence for a tunneling contribution has come from breakdown of those relationship for a secondary hydrogen, that is, not the hydrogen whose bond is being cleaved but its geminal neighbor. Furthermore, many of the reported experiments have been mixed-labeling experiments, in which a secondary H/T kinetic isotope effect was measured for C-H cleavage, while the D/T secondary effect accompanied C-D cleavage. In experiments of this type, the breakdown of the Swain-Schaad relationship indicates both tunneling and the degree of coupled motion between the primary and secondary hydrogens. We found a new semiclassical limit (e.g., 4.8 for H/T to D/T kinetic isotope effects), whose breakdown can serve as a more reliable experimental evidence for tunneling in this common mixed-labeling experiment. We study the tunneling contribution to C-H bond activation, for which many relevant experimental and theoretical data are available. However, these studies can be applied to any hydrogen-transfer reaction. First, an extension of the original approach was applied, and then vibrational analysis studies were carried out for a model system (the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase). Finally, the effect of complex kinetics on the observed Swain-Schaad relationship was examined. All three methods yield a new semiclassical limit (4.8), above which tunneling must be considered. Yet, it was found that for many cases the original, localized limit (3.34), holds fairly well. For experimental results that are between the original and new limits (within statistical errors), several methods are suggested that can support or exclude tunneling. These new and clearer criteria provide a basis for future applications of the Swain-Schaad relationship to demonstrate tunneling in complex systems.