• pulse radiolysis;
  • molecular modeling;
  • peptides;
  • sulfur-centered radicals;
  • three-electron bonds


The free-radical chemistry of two oxidized cyclic dipeptides is investigated using time-resolved optical and conductivity detection. Two cyclic dipeptides, cyclo-Gly-L-Met and cyclo-D-Met-L-Met, are synthesized and irradiated with nanosecond pulses of electrons, which initiate the oxidation of the methionine side chains with hydroxyl radicals from the radiolysis of water. The cyclic peptides are taken to be models for the interior of proteins where there are no terminal groups. This opens up the possibility that neighboring-group effects can be studied directly between the initially formed sulfur radical cations and the heteroatoms associated with the peptide bonds. Such complexation of the sulfur radical cations is observed with the amide nitrogen atoms. In addition, intermolecular stabilization with the unoxidized sulfur atoms on separate cyclic dipeptide molecules is observed. Little or no intramolecular stabilization by the unoxidized sulfur in the neighboring methionine occurs in cyclo-D-Met-L-Met, in contrast to the previously observed intramolecular sulfur stabilization of the sulfur radical cation in the isomer cyclo-L-Met-L-Met. This contrasting behavior is rationalized by conformational differences in the two isomers as seen through molecular-modeling simulations. The implications for the oxidation of the protein calmodulin, which contains multiple residues of methionine, are discussed as having analogous determining factors.