Traditionally, nuclear spin is not considered to affect biological processes. Recently, this has changed as isotopic fractionation that deviates from classical mass dependence was reported both in vitro and in vivo. In these cases, the isotopic effect correlates with the nuclear magnetic spin. Here, we show nuclear spin effects using stable oxygen isotopes (16O, 17O, and 18O) in two separate setups: an artificial dioxygen production system and biological aquaporin channels in cells. We observe that oxygen dynamics in chiral environments (in particular its transport) depend on nuclear spin, suggesting future applications for controlled isotope separation to be used, for instance, in NMR. To demonstrate the mechanism behind our findings, we formulate theoretical models based on a nuclear-spin-enhanced switch between electronic spin states. Accounting for the role of nuclear spin in biology can provide insights into the role of quantum effects in living systems and help inspire the development of future biotechnology solutions.
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
|Published - 2023
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© 2023 the Author(s).
- nuclear spin