Repository logo

Short hydrogen bonds enhance nonaromatic protein-related fluorescence.

Published version



Change log


Stephens, Amberley D  ORCID logo
Qaisrani, Muhammad Nawaz  ORCID logo
Ruggiero, Michael T  ORCID logo
Díaz Mirón, Gonzalo 
Morzan, Uriel N 


Fluorescence in biological systems is usually associated with the presence of aromatic groups. Here, by employing a combined experimental and computational approach, we show that specific hydrogen bond networks can significantly affect fluorescence. In particular, we reveal that the single amino acid L-glutamine, by undergoing a chemical transformation leading to the formation of a short hydrogen bond, displays optical properties that are significantly enhanced compared with L-glutamine itself. Ab initio molecular dynamics simulations highlight that these short hydrogen bonds prevent the appearance of a conical intersection between the excited and the ground states and thereby significantly decrease nonradiative transition probabilities. Our findings open the door to the design of new photoactive materials with biophotonic applications.



intrinsic fluorescence, short hydrogen bond, ultraviolet fluorescence, Ammonia, Density Functional Theory, Fluorescence, Glutamine, Humans, Hydrogen Bonding, Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Optics and Photonics, Peptides

Journal Title

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Medical Research Council (MR/K02292X/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L016087/1)
Wellcome Trust (065807/Z/01/Z)
Wellcome Trust (203249/Z/16/Z)
We thank Bluebell Drummond, Talia Shmool, and Chetan Poudel for work that is not in the final manuscript. G.S.K.S. acknowledges funding from the Wellcome Trust Grants (065807/Z/01/Z and 203249/Z/16/ Z), the UK Medical Research Council Grant (MR/K02292X/1), Alzheimer Research United Kingdom (ARUK) Grant (ARUK-PG013-14), the Michael J. Fox Foundation Grant (16238), and Infinitus China Ltd. M.T.R. and J.A.Z. acknowledge Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding Grant (EP/N022769/1). P.J.W. acknowledges EPSRC funding Grant (EP/L016087/1). A.D.S. acknowledges ARUK and the British Biophysical Society for travel grants.
Is supplemented by: