Proteins can be nitrated by air pollutants (NO2), enhancing their allergenic potential. This work provides insight into protein nitration and subsequent decomposition in the presence of solar radiation. We also investigated light-induced formation of nitrous acid (HONO) from protein surfaces that were nitrated either online with instantaneous gas-phase exposure to NO2 or offline by an efficient nitration agent (tetranitromethane, TNM). Bovine serum albumin (BSA) and ovalbumin (OVA) were used as model substances for proteins. Nitration degrees of about 1% were derived applying NO2 concentrations of 100 ppb under VIS=UV illuminated conditions, while simultaneous decomposition of (nitrated) proteins was also found during long-term (20 h) irradiation exposure. Measurements of gas exchange on TNM-nitrated
proteins revealed that HONO can be formed and released even without contribution of instantaneous heterogeneous NO2 conversion. NO2 exposure was found to increase HONO emissions substantially. In particular, a strong dependence of HONO emissions on light intensity, relative humidity, NO2 concentrations and the applied coating thickness was found. The 20 h long-term studies revealed sustained HONO formation, even when concentrations of the intact (nitrated) proteins were too low to be detected after the gas exchange measurements. A reaction mechanism for the NO2 conversion based on the Langmuir–Hinshelwood kinetics is proposed.
Meusel, H., Elshorbany, Y., Kuhn, U., Bartels-Rausch, T., Reinmuth-Selzle, K., Kampf, C. J., … Cheng, Y. (2017). Light-induced protein nitration and degradation with HONO emission. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 17(19), 11819–11833. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-17-11819-2017
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