Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2013, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (10): 2135-2147.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201308011

• REVIEW • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Structures, Stabilities and Physicochemical Properties of Nucleobase Tautomers

CAO Guo-Jin1, ZHENG Wei-Jun2   

  1. 1 Department of Chemistry and Key Laboratory of Organic Optoelectronics and Molecular Engineering of Ministry of Education, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, P. R. China;
    2 Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences, State Key Laboratory of Molecular Reaction Dynamics, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, P. R. China
  • Received:2013-06-06 Revised:2013-07-31 Published:2013-09-26
  • Contact: ZHENG Wei-Jun
  • Supported by:

    The project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21273246).


Nucleobases in DNA and RNA are important building blocks of the genetic codes and are critical in transferring genetic information. In general, nucleobases have many tautomers; but in DNA and RNA molecules they are mainly presented in the most stable forms. Uncommon tautomers can cause mispairing of base pairs to form irregular structures of DNA and RNA that lead to spontaneous mutations during replication. Thus, systematic studies of nucleobase tautomers are very important in understanding the structures and the characteristics of DNA and RNA. This review summarizes the experimental and theoretical studies in the literature and our density functional calculations on all the nucleobase tautomers. The relative energies of nucleobase tautomers and the structures of their lowest-energy tautomers fromour calculations are in good agreement with the experimental values in the literature. In addition, we also summarize the information of electron affinities, ionization potentials, and proton affinities of nucleobases reported in the literature.

Key words: Nucleobase, Tautomer, Density functional calculation, Electron affinity, Ionization potential, Proton affinity