The retinal chromophore/chloride ion pair: Structure of the photoisomerization path and interplay of charge transfer and covalent states

Alessandro Cembran, Fernando Bernardi, Massimo Olivucci, Marco Garavelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ab initio multireference second-order perturbation theory computations are used to explore the photochemical behavior of two ion pairs constituted by a chloride counterion interacting with either a rhodopsin or bacteriorhodopsin chromophore model (i.e., the 4-cis-γ-methylnona-2,4,6,8-tetraeniminium and all-trans-nona-2,4,6,8-tetraeniminium cations, respectively). Significant counterion effects on the structure of the photoisomerization paths are unveiled by comparison with the paths of the same chromophores in vacuo. Indeed, we demonstrate that the counterion (i) modulates the relative stability of the S0, S1, and S2 energy surfaces leading to an S1 isomerization energy profile where the S1 and S 2 states are substantially degenerate; (ii) leads to the emergence of significant S1 energy barriers along all of the isomerization paths except the one mimicking the 11-cis → all-trans isomerization of the rhodopsin chromophore model; and (iii) changes the nature of the S1 → S0 decay funnel that becomes a stable excited state minimum when the isomerizing double bond is located at the center of the chromophore moiety. We show that these (apparently very different) counterion effects can be rationalized on the basis of a simple qualitative electrostatic model, which also provides a crude basis for understanding the behavior of retinal protonated Schiff bases in solution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6255-6260
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume102
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - May 3 2005

Keywords

  • Ab initio
  • Conical intersection
  • Counterion
  • Protonated Schiff base

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