Chemiluminescence Associated with Singlet Oxygen Reactions with Amino Acids, Peptides and Proteins


  • From coauthors Emilio Alarcón, Carola Henríquez and Alexis Aspée: This paper is part of a symposium-in-print dedicated to Professor Eduardo A. Lissi on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

*email: (Eduardo A. Lissi)


Low level chemiluminescence (CL) is observed after protein oxidation mediated by singlet oxygen produced in Rose Bengal (RB) irradiation. This CL lasts for several minutes after the end of the photolysis. In this work, the mechanism of the process was assessed from the spectral characteristics of the CL and the effect of antioxidants (Trolox or ascorbate), Ebselen (a compound with peroxidase-like activity), azide (a singlet oxygen scavenger) and D2O, added prior to or after RB irradiation. It is concluded that most of the light emission is due to formation of excited states generated in the decomposition of peroxides and/or hydroperoxides accumulated during the photolysis. Experiments carried out in the presence of several amino acids (Cys, Met, His, Tyr and Trp) and di- and tripeptides suggest that peroxides (and/or hydroperoxides) of Trp residues are mainly responsible for the CL observed after singlet oxygen-mediated protein oxidation. The much weaker CL observed after the oxidation of proteins without Trp residues supports this conclusion. A comparison of the results obtained employing free Trp, Ala-Trp and Trp-Ala dipeptides, Ala-Trp-Ala tripeptide and Trp-containing proteins supports the conclusion that blocking the amino group of the Trp moiety strongly increases the efficiency of the chemiluminescent process, producing ≈2.5×10−8 photons per oxidized Trp group in Ala-Trp. A mechanism comprising two chemiluminescent oxidation pathways of Trp residues is proposed to explain the results.