radical pair
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Bo Leberecht ◽  
Dmitry Kobylkov ◽  
Thiemo Karwinkel ◽  
Sara Döge ◽  
Lars Burnus ◽  

AbstractThe light-dependent magnetic compass sense of night-migratory songbirds can be disrupted by weak radiofrequency fields. This finding supports a quantum mechanical, radical-pair-based mechanism of magnetoreception as observed for isolated cryptochrome 4, a protein found in birds’ retinas. The exact identity of the magnetically sensitive radicals in cryptochrome is uncertain in vivo, but their formation seems to require a bound flavin adenine dinucleotide chromophore and a chain of four tryptophan residues within the protein. Resulting from the hyperfine interactions of nuclear spins with the unpaired electrons, the sensitivity of the radicals to radiofrequency magnetic fields depends strongly on the number of magnetic nuclei (hydrogen and nitrogen atoms) they contain. Quantum-chemical calculations suggested that electromagnetic noise in the frequency range 75–85 MHz could give information about the identity of the radicals involved. Here, we show that broadband 75–85 MHz radiofrequency fields prevent a night-migratory songbird from using its magnetic compass in behavioural experiments. These results indicate that at least one of the components of the radical pair involved in the sensory process of avian magnetoreception must contain a substantial number of strong hyperfine interactions as would be the case if a flavin–tryptophan radical pair were the magnetic sensor.

Science ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 374 (6574) ◽  
pp. 1470-1474 ◽  
David Mims ◽  
Jonathan Herpich ◽  
Nikita N. Lukzen ◽  
Ulrich E. Steiner ◽  
Christoph Lambert

Chemistry ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 3 (4) ◽  
pp. 1286-1301
Amedeo Capobianco ◽  
Alessandro Landi ◽  
Andrea Peluso

The mechanism of aromatic nitration is critically reviewed with particular emphasis on the paradox of the high positional selectivity of substitution in spite of low substrate selectivity. Early quantum chemical computations in the gas phase have suggested that the retention of positional selectivity at encounter-limited rates could be ascribed to the formation of a radical pair via an electron transfer step occurring before the formation of the Wheland intermediate, but calculations which account for the effects of solvent polarization and the presence of counterion do not support that point of view. Here we report a brief survey of the available experimental and theoretical data, adding a few more computations for better clarifying the role of electron transfer for regioselectivity.

2021 ◽  
Adam Bradlaugh ◽  
Giorgio Fedele ◽  
Anna Munro ◽  
Celia Hansen ◽  
Charalambos Kyriacou ◽  

Many animals use the Earth magnetic field (geoMF) for navigation. The favored mechanism for magnetosensitivity involves a blue-light (BL) activated electron transfer reaction between flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) and a chain of tryptophan (Trp) residues within the photoreceptor protein, CRYPTOCHROME (CRY). The spin-state of the resultant radical pair (RP) and hence the concentration of CRY in its active state is influenced by the geoMF. The canonical CRY-centric radical pair mechanism (RPM) does not, however, explain many physiological and behavioural observations. Here, using electrophysiology and behavioural analyses, we assay magnetic field (MF) responses at single neuron and organismal level. We show that the 52 C-terminal (CT) amino acids of CRY, which are missing the FAD binding domain and the Trp chain, are sufficient to facilitate magnetoreception. We also show that increasing intracellular FAD potentiates both BL-induced and MF-dependent effects on the activity mediated by the CT. Additionally, high levels of FAD alone are sufficient to cause BL neuronal sensitivity and, remarkably, potentiation of this response in the co-presence of a MF. These unexpected results reveal the essential components of a primary magnetoreceptor in flies, providing strong evidence that non-canonical (i.e., non-CRY-dependent) RPs can elicit MF responses in cells.

2021 ◽  
Vol 18 (184) ◽  
Siu Ying Wong ◽  
Yujing Wei ◽  
Henrik Mouritsen ◽  
Ilia A. Solov'yov ◽  
P. J. Hore

The biophysical mechanism of the magnetic compass sensor in migratory songbirds is thought to involve photo-induced radical pairs formed in cryptochrome (Cry) flavoproteins located in photoreceptor cells in the eyes. In Cry4a—the most likely of the six known avian Crys to have a magnetic sensing function—four radical pair states are formed sequentially by the stepwise transfer of an electron along a chain of four tryptophan residues to the photo-excited flavin. In purified Cry4a from the migratory European robin, the third of these flavin–tryptophan radical pairs is more magnetically sensitive than the fourth, consistent with the smaller separation of the radicals in the former. Here, we explore the idea that these two radical pair states of Cry4a could exist in rapid dynamic equilibrium such that the key magnetic and kinetic properties are weighted averages. Spin dynamics simulations suggest that the third radical pair is largely responsible for magnetic sensing while the fourth may be better placed to initiate magnetic signalling particularly if the terminal tryptophan radical can be reduced by a nearby tyrosine. Such an arrangement could have allowed independent optimization of the essential sensing and signalling functions of the protein. It might also rationalize why avian Cry4a has four tryptophans while Crys from plants have only three.

2021 ◽  
Rishabh Rishabh ◽  
Hadi Zadeh-Haghighi ◽  
Dennis Salahub ◽  
Christoph Simon

Exposures to a hypomagnetic field can affect biological processes. Recently, it has been observed that hypomagnetic field exposure can adversely affect adult hippocampal neurogenesis and hippocampus-dependent cognition in mice. In the same study, the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in hypomagnetic field effects has been demonstrated. However, the mechanistic reasons behind this effect are not clear. This study proposes a radical pair mechanism based on a flavin-superoxide radical pair to explain the modulation of ROS production and the attenuation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in a hypomagnetic field. The results of our calculations favor a singlet-born radical pair over a triplet-born radical pair. Our model predicts hypomagnetic field effects on the triplet/singlet yield of comparable strength as the effects observed in experimental studies on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Our predictions are also in qualitative agreement with experimental results on superoxide concentration and other observed ROS effects. We also predict the effects of applied magnetic fields and oxygen isotopic substitution on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Our findings strengthen the idea that nature might harness quantum resources in the context of the brain.

2021 ◽  
Christoph Simon

The exact mechanism behind general anesthesia remains an open question in neuroscience. It has been proposed that anesthetics selectively prevent consciousness and memory via acting on microtubules (MTs). It is known that the magnetic field modulates MT organization. A recent study shows that a radical pair model can explain the isotope effect in xenon-induced anesthesia and predicts magnetic field effects on anesthetic potency. Further, reactive oxygen species are also implicated in MT stability and anesthesia. Based on a simple radical pair mechanism model and a simple mathematical model of MT organization, we show that magnetic fields can modulate spin dynamics of naturally occurring radical pairs in MT. We show that the spin dynamics influence a rate in the reaction cycle, which translates into a change in the MT density. We can reproduce magnetic field effects on the MT concentration that have been observed. Our model also predicts additional effects at slightly higher fields. Our model further predicts that the effect of zinc on the MT density exhibits isotopic dependence. The findings of this work make a connection between microtubule-based and radical pair-based quantum theories of consciousness.

2021 ◽  
Vol 4 (1) ◽  
Yongyong Gao ◽  
Ping Wen ◽  
Ring T. Cardé ◽  
Huan Xu ◽  
Qiuying Huang

AbstractThe volatile trail pheromone is an ephemeral chemical cue, whereas the geomagnetic field (GMF) provides a stable positional reference. However, it is unclear whether and how the cryptic termites perceive the GMF for orientation in light or darkness until now. Here, we found that the two termite species, Reticulitermes chinensis and Odontotermes formosanus, use the GMF for orientation. Our silencing cryptochrome 2 (Cry2) impaired magnetic orientation in white light but had no significant impact in complete darkness, suggesting that Cry2 can mediate magnetic orientation in termites only under light. Coincidentally, the presence of magnetic particles enabled the magnetic orientation of termites in darkness. When knock-downing the olfactory co-receptor (Orco) to exclude the effect of trail pheromone, unexpectedly, we found that the Orco participated in termite magnetic orientation under both light and darkness. Our findings revealed a novel magnetoreception model depending on the joint action of radical pair, magnetic particle, and olfactory co-receptor.

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