Peptide Electron Transfer: More Questions than Answers



Nature has specifically designed proteins, as opposed to DNA, for electron transfer. There is no doubt about the electron transfer within proteins compared with the uncertain and continuing debate about charge transfer through DNA. However, the exact mechanism of electron transfer within peptide systems has been a source of controversy. Two different mechanisms for electron transfer between a donor and an acceptor, electron hopping and bridge-assisted superexchange, have been proposed, and are supported by experimental evidence and theoretical calculations. Several factors were found to affect the kinetics of this process, including peptide chain length, secondary structure and hydrogen bonding. Electrochemical measurements of surface-supported peptides have contributed significantly to the debate. Here we summarize the current approaches to the study of electron transfer in peptides with a focus on surface measurements and comment on these results in light of the current and often controversial debate on electron transfer mechanisms in peptides.