Nuclear spin catalysis in nanoreactors of living cells: biophysical premises and biomedical promeses

Koltover V.

Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics, RAS, Chernogolovka, Moscow Region, Russia E-mail:

Cells are composed from atoms of chemical elements some of which have magnetic and nonmagnetic stable isotopes. In chemistry and physics, magnetic isotope effects (MIEs) have long been known [1]. Not long ago, it has been discovered that living cells perceive the nuclear magnetism. For example, the E. coli cells, enriched with magnetic magnesium isotope, 25Mg, demonstrate the reduced activity of the important antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase, by comparison to the cells, enriched with the nonmagnetic magnesium isotope [2]. With another cell model, S. cerevisiae irradiated by UV light or ionizing radiation, it was revealed that the post-radiation recovery of the yeast cells, enriched with 25Mg, proceeds two times faster than the recovery of the cells, enriched with nonmagnetic 24Mg [3]. Furthermore, MIEs have been revealed in studies of the important bio-molecular motor, myosin isolated from smooth muscle. The rate of ATP hydrolysis, driven by myosin, is 2.0-2.5 times higher with 25Mg than that with nonmagnetic 24Mg or 26Mg. The similar MIE has been revealed with zinc. While Zn2+ performs the cofactor function less efficiently than Mg2+, the rate of the ATP hydrolysis driven by myosin is 40-50 percent higher with magnetic 67Zn as compared to nonmagnetic 64Zn or 68Zn [4]. Besides, the beneficial MIE of 25Mg was observed in the ATP hydrolysis catalyzed by mitochondrial H+-ATPase isolated from the yeast cells. On its own, evidence of MIE unambiguously indicates that there is a spin-selective rate-limiting step, the “bottle-neck” in the chemo-mechanical cycle of the enzyme, that is accelerated by the nuclear spin of 25Mg or 67Zn [5]. Detailed physical mechanisms of the nuclear spin catalysis in biomolecular motors, as well as biological mechanisms of enhancement of these effects in living cells, require further investigations. Nevertheless, there are the grounds to believe that pharmaceutical agents enriched with the magnetic isotopes will find use for creating novel anti-stress drugs including anti-radiation protectors and radiomitigators.


1. Zeldovich Ya.B., Buchachenko A.L., Frankevich E.L. Magnetic spin effects in chemistry and molecular physics. // Sov. Phys. Usp. 155. 1988. Pp. 3-45.

2. Avdeeva L.V., Koltover V.K. Nuclear Spin Catalysis in Living Nature. // Moscow Univ. Chemistry Bull. 71. 2016. Pp. 160-166.

3. Avdeeva L.V., Evstyukhina T.A., Koltover V.K., Korolev V.G., Kutlakhmedov Y.A. Recovery of the yeast cells from radiation injuries with aid of the magnetic isotopes: a new trend in anti-radiation biomedicine. // Nuclear Physics and Atomic Energy, 20. 2019. No. 3 (in press).

4. Koltover V.K., Labyntseva R.D., Kosterin S.O. Stable magnetic isotopes as modulators of ATPase activity of smooth muscle myosin. In: Myosin: Biosynthesis, Classes and Function – New York: Nova Science Publ. 2018. Pp. 135-158.

5. Koltover V.K. Nuclear spin catalysis: from physics of liquid matter to medical physics. // J. Molecular Liquids, 2017, 235, 44-48.

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