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Proteins contained in pollen and other biological particles are nitrated by ozone and nitrogen dioxide in polluted air. The nitration can enhance the allergenic potential of proteins, which may contribute to the increasing prevalence of allergic diseases. The reactive uptake of NO(2) by aerosolized protein (bovine serum albumin) was investigated in an aerosol flow tube using the short-lived radioactive tracer (13)N. In the absence of O(3), the NO(2) uptake coefficient was below detection limit (γ(NO2) < 10(-6)), but with 20-160 ppb O(3) γ(NO2) increased from ~10(-6) to ~10(-4). Using the kinetic multilayer model of surface and bulk chemistry (KM-SUB), the observed time and concentration dependence can be well reproduced by a multiphase chemical mechanism involving ozone-generated reactive oxygen intermediates (ROIs), but not by NO(3) radicals formed in the gas phase. Product studies show the formation of protein dimers, suggesting that the ROIs are phenoxy radical derivatives of the amino acid tyrosine (tyrosyl radicals) which are also involved in physiological protein nitration processes. Our results imply that proteins on the surface of aerosol particles undergo rapid nitration in polluted air, while the rate of nitration in bulk material may be low depending on phase state and surface-to-volume ratio.


Manabu Shiraiwa, Kathrin Selzle, Hong Yang, Yulia Sosedova, Markus Ammann, Ulrich Pöschl. Multiphase chemical kinetics of the nitration of aerosolized protein by ozone and nitrogen dioxide. Environmental science & technology. 2012 Jun 19;46(12):6672-80

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PMID: 22594802

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