Histidine - Chemical Properties - NMR

NMR

As expected, the 15N chemical shifts of these nitrogens are indistinguishable (about 200 ppm, relative to nitric acid on the sigma scale, on which increased shielding corresponds to increased chemical shift). As the pH increases to approximately 8, the protonation of the imidazole ring is lost. The remaining proton of the now-neutral imidazole can exist on either nitrogen, giving rise to what is known as the N-1 or N-3 tautomers. NMR shows that the chemical shift of N-1 drops slightly, whereas the chemical shift of N-3 drops considerably (about 190 vs. 145 ppm). This indicates that the N-1-H tautomer is preferred, it is presumed due to hydrogen bonding to the neighboring ammonium. The shielding at N-3 is substantially reduced due to the second-order paramagnetic effect, which involves a symmetry-allowed interaction between the nitrogen lone pair and the excited pi* states of the aromatic ring. As the pH rises above 9, the chemical shifts of N-1 and N-3 become approximately 185 and 170 ppm. It is worth noting that the deprotonated form of imidazole, imidazolate ion, would be formed only above a pH of 14, and is therefore not physiologically relevant. This change in chemical shifts can be explained by the presumably decreased hydrogen bonding of an amine over an ammonium ion, and the favorable hydrogen bonding between a carboxylate and an NH. This should act to decrease the N-1-H tautomer preference.

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