Tautomer
Overview
 
Tautomers are isomer
Isomer
In chemistry, isomers are compounds with the same molecular formula but different structural formulas. Isomers do not necessarily share similar properties, unless they also have the same functional groups. There are many different classes of isomers, like stereoisomers, enantiomers, geometrical...

s of organic compound
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

s that readily interconvert by a chemical reaction
Chemical reaction
A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Chemical reactions can be either spontaneous, requiring no input of energy, or non-spontaneous, typically following the input of some type of energy, such as heat, light or electricity...

 called tautomerization. This reaction commonly results in the formal migration of a hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

 or proton
Proton
The proton is a subatomic particle with the symbol or and a positive electric charge of 1 elementary charge. One or more protons are present in the nucleus of each atom, along with neutrons. The number of protons in each atom is its atomic number....

, accompanied by a switch of a single bond and adjacent double bond
Double bond
A double bond in chemistry is a chemical bond between two chemical elements involving four bonding electrons instead of the usual two. The most common double bond, that between two carbon atoms, can be found in alkenes. Many types of double bonds between two different elements exist, for example in...

. The concept of tautomerizations is called tautomerism. Because of the rapid interconversion, tautomers are generally considered to be the same chemical compound.
Encyclopedia
Tautomers are isomer
Isomer
In chemistry, isomers are compounds with the same molecular formula but different structural formulas. Isomers do not necessarily share similar properties, unless they also have the same functional groups. There are many different classes of isomers, like stereoisomers, enantiomers, geometrical...

s of organic compound
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

s that readily interconvert by a chemical reaction
Chemical reaction
A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Chemical reactions can be either spontaneous, requiring no input of energy, or non-spontaneous, typically following the input of some type of energy, such as heat, light or electricity...

 called tautomerization. This reaction commonly results in the formal migration of a hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

 or proton
Proton
The proton is a subatomic particle with the symbol or and a positive electric charge of 1 elementary charge. One or more protons are present in the nucleus of each atom, along with neutrons. The number of protons in each atom is its atomic number....

, accompanied by a switch of a single bond and adjacent double bond
Double bond
A double bond in chemistry is a chemical bond between two chemical elements involving four bonding electrons instead of the usual two. The most common double bond, that between two carbon atoms, can be found in alkenes. Many types of double bonds between two different elements exist, for example in...

. The concept of tautomerizations is called tautomerism. Because of the rapid interconversion, tautomers are generally considered to be the same chemical compound. Tautomerism is a special case of structural isomerism
Structural isomerism
Structural isomerism, or constitutional isomerism , is a form of isomerism in which molecules with the same molecular formula have bonded together in different orders, as opposed to stereoisomerism. There are multiple synonyms for constitutional isomers.Three categories of constitutional isomers...

 and can play an important role in non-canonical base pair
Base pair
In molecular biology and genetics, the linking between two nitrogenous bases on opposite complementary DNA or certain types of RNA strands that are connected via hydrogen bonds is called a base pair...

ing in DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 and especially RNA
RNA
Ribonucleic acid , or RNA, is one of the three major macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life....

 molecules.

Chemistry

In solution
Solution
In chemistry, a solution is a homogeneous mixture composed of only one phase. In such a mixture, a solute is dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent. The solvent does the dissolving.- Types of solutions :...

s in which tautomerization is possible, a chemical equilibrium
Chemical equilibrium
In a chemical reaction, chemical equilibrium is the state in which the concentrations of the reactants and products have not yet changed with time. It occurs only in reversible reactions, and not in irreversible reactions. Usually, this state results when the forward reaction proceeds at the same...

 of the tautomers will be reached. The exact ratio of the tautomers depends on several factors, including temperature
Temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

, solvent
Solvent
A solvent is a liquid, solid, or gas that dissolves another solid, liquid, or gaseous solute, resulting in a solution that is soluble in a certain volume of solvent at a specified temperature...

, and pH
PH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

.

Common tautomeric pairs are:
  • ketone
    Ketone
    In organic chemistry, a ketone is an organic compound with the structure RCR', where R and R' can be a variety of atoms and groups of atoms. It features a carbonyl group bonded to two other carbon atoms. Many ketones are known and many are of great importance in industry and in biology...

     - enol
    Enol
    Enols are alkenes with a hydroxyl group affixed to one of the carbon atoms composing the double bond. Alkenes with a hydroxyl group on both sides of the double bond are called enediols. Deprotonated anions of enols are called enolates...

    , e.g., for acetone
    Acetone
    Acetone is the organic compound with the formula 2CO, a colorless, mobile, flammable liquid, the simplest example of the ketones.Acetone is miscible with water and serves as an important solvent in its own right, typically as the solvent of choice for cleaning purposes in the laboratory...

     (see: keto-enol tautomerism
    Keto-enol tautomerism
    In organic chemistry, keto-enol tautomerism refers to a chemical equilibrium between a keto form and an enol . The enol and keto forms are said to be tautomers of each other...

    )
  • ketene
    Ketene
    A ketene is an organic compound of the form R'RC=C=O. The term is also used specifically to mean ethenone, the simplest ketene, where R' and R are hydrogen atoms.Ketenes were first studied as a class by Hermann Staudinger.-Formation:...

     - ynol
    Ynol
    In chemistry, an ynol is an alkyne with a hydroxyl group affixed to one of the two carbons composing the triple bond. The deprotonated anions of ynols are known as ynolates...

    , e.g., for Ethenone
    Ethenone
    Ethenone is the formal name for ketene, an organic compound with formula C2H2O or H2C=C=O. It is the simplest member of the ketene class. It is a tautomer of ethynol.- Properties :...

  • amide
    Amide
    In chemistry, an amide is an organic compound that contains the functional group consisting of a carbonyl group linked to a nitrogen atom . The term refers both to a class of compounds and a functional group within those compounds. The term amide also refers to deprotonated form of ammonia or an...

     - imidic acid, e.g., during nitrile
    Nitrile
    A nitrile is any organic compound that has a -C≡N functional group. The prefix cyano- is used interchangeably with the term nitrile in industrial literature. Nitriles are found in many useful compounds, one example being super glue .Inorganic compounds containing the -C≡N group are not called...

     hydrolysis
    Hydrolysis
    Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction during which molecules of water are split into hydrogen cations and hydroxide anions in the process of a chemical mechanism. It is the type of reaction that is used to break down certain polymers, especially those made by condensation polymerization...

     reactions
  • lactam
    Lactam
    A lactam is a cyclic amide. Prefixes indicate how many carbon atoms are present in the ring: β-lactam , γ-lactam , δ-lactam...

     - lactim, an amide - imidic acid tautomerism in heterocyclic rings, e.g., in the nucleobase
    Nucleobase
    Nucleobases are a group of nitrogen-based molecules that are required to form nucleotides, the basic building blocks of DNA and RNA. Nucleobases provide the molecular structure necessary for the hydrogen bonding of complementary DNA and RNA strands, and are key components in the formation of stable...

    s guanine
    Guanine
    Guanine is one of the four main nucleobases found in the nucleic acids DNA and RNA, the others being adenine, cytosine, and thymine . In DNA, guanine is paired with cytosine. With the formula C5H5N5O, guanine is a derivative of purine, consisting of a fused pyrimidine-imidazole ring system with...

    , thymine
    Thymine
    Thymine is one of the four nucleobases in the nucleic acid of DNA that are represented by the letters G–C–A–T. The others are adenine, guanine, and cytosine. Thymine is also known as 5-methyluracil, a pyrimidine nucleobase. As the name suggests, thymine may be derived by methylation of uracil at...

    , and cytosine
    Cytosine
    Cytosine is one of the four main bases found in DNA and RNA, along with adenine, guanine, and thymine . It is a pyrimidine derivative, with a heterocyclic aromatic ring and two substituents attached . The nucleoside of cytosine is cytidine...

  • enamine
    Enamine
    An enamine is an unsaturated compound derived by the reaction of an aldehyde or ketone with a secondary amine followed by loss of H2O.The word "enamine" is derived from the affix en-, used as the suffix of alkene, and the root amine. This can be compared with enol, which is a functional group...

     - imine
    Imine
    An imine is a functional group or chemical compound containing a carbon–nitrogen double bond, with the nitrogen attached to a hydrogen atom or an organic group. If this group is not a hydrogen atom, then the compound is known as a Schiff base...

  • enamine - enamine, e.g., during pyridoxalphosphate
    Pyridoxal-phosphate
    Pyridoxal-phosphate is a prosthetic group of some enzymes. It is the active form of vitamin B6, which comprises three natural organic compounds, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine and pyridoxine.-Role as a coenzyme:...

    -catalyzed enzymatic
    Enzyme
    Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

     reactions.
  • anomer
    Anomer
    In carbohydrate chemistry, an anomer is a special type of epimer. It is one of two stereoisomers of a cyclic saccharide that differs only in its configuration at the hemiacetal or hemiketal carbon, also called the anomeric carbon. Anomerization is the process of conversion of one anomer to the other...

    s of reducing sugar
    Reducing sugar
    A reducing sugar is any sugar that either has an aldehyde group or is capable of forming one in solution through isomerisation. This functional group allows the sugar to act as a reducing agent, for example in the Tollens' test or Benedict's test.-Chemistry:...

    s in solution interconvert through an intermediate open chain
    Open chain
    In chemistry, an open-chain compound or acyclic compound is a compound with a linear structure, rather than a cyclic one....

     form.

Prototropy

Prototropy is the most common form of tautomerism and refers to the relocation of a proton.
Prototropic tautomerism may be considered as a subset of acid-base behavior. Prototropic tautomers are sets of isomeric protonation
Protonation
In chemistry, protonation is the addition of a proton to an atom, molecule, or ion. Some classic examples include*the protonation of water by sulfuric acid:*the protonation of isobutene in the formation of a carbocation:2C=CH2 + HBF4 → 3C+ + BF4−*the protonation of ammonia in the...

 states with the same empirical formula
Empirical formula
In chemistry, the empirical formula of a chemical compound is the simplest positive integer ratio of atoms of each element present in a compound. An empirical formula makes no reference to isomerism, structure, or absolute number of atoms. The empirical formula is used as standard for most ionic...

 and total charge
Charge (physics)
In physics, a charge may refer to one of many different quantities, such as the electric charge in electromagnetism or the color charge in quantum chromodynamics. Charges are associated with conserved quantum numbers.-Formal definition:...

.

Tautomerizations are catalyzed
Catalysis
Catalysis is the change in rate of a chemical reaction due to the participation of a substance called a catalyst. Unlike other reagents that participate in the chemical reaction, a catalyst is not consumed by the reaction itself. A catalyst may participate in multiple chemical transformations....

 by:
  • base
    Base (chemistry)
    For the term in genetics, see base A base in chemistry is a substance that can accept hydrogen ions or more generally, donate electron pairs. A soluble base is referred to as an alkali if it contains and releases hydroxide ions quantitatively...

     (1. deprotonation; 2. formation of a delocalized anion (e.g., an enolate); 3. protonation
    Protonation
    In chemistry, protonation is the addition of a proton to an atom, molecule, or ion. Some classic examples include*the protonation of water by sulfuric acid:*the protonation of isobutene in the formation of a carbocation:2C=CH2 + HBF4 → 3C+ + BF4−*the protonation of ammonia in the...

     at a different position of the anion).
  • acid
    Acid
    An acid is a substance which reacts with a base. Commonly, acids can be identified as tasting sour, reacting with metals such as calcium, and bases like sodium carbonate. Aqueous acids have a pH of less than 7, where an acid of lower pH is typically stronger, and turn blue litmus paper red...

    s (1. protonation; 2. formation of a delocalized cation; 3. deprotonation at a different position adjacent to the cation).


Annular tautomerism: a type of prototropic tautomerism wherein a proton can occupy two or more positions of a heterocyclic system, for example, 1H- and 3H-imidazole
Imidazole
Imidazole is an organic compound with the formula C3H4N2. This aromatic heterocyclic is a diazole and is classified as an alkaloid. Imidazole refers to the parent compound, whereas imidazoles are a class of heterocycles with similar ring structure, but varying substituents...

; 1H-, 2H- and 4H- 1,2,4-triazole
1,2,4-Triazole
1,2,4-Triazole is one of a pair of isomeric chemical compounds with molecular formula C2H3N3, called triazoles, which have a five-membered ring of two carbon atoms and three nitrogen atoms. 1,2,4-Triazole is a basic aromatic heterocycle...

; 1H- and 2H- isoindole
Isoindole
Isoindole in heterocyclic chemistry is a benzo fused pyrrole. The compound is an isomer of indole and its reduced form is an isoindoline.In solution its tautomer without full aromaticity over the whole ring system is predominant:...

.

Ring-chain tautomerism: occurring when the movement of the proton is accompanied by a change from an open structure to a ring, such as the open chain
Open chain
In chemistry, an open-chain compound or acyclic compound is a compound with a linear structure, rather than a cyclic one....

 and pyran
Pyran
In chemistry, a pyran, or oxine, is a six-membered heterocyclic, non-aromatic ring, consisting of five carbon atoms and one oxygen atom and containing two double bonds. The molecular formula is C5H6O. There are two isomers of pyran that differ by the location of the double bonds...

 forms of glucose
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

 and furan
Furan
Furan is a heterocyclic organic compound, consisting of a five-membered aromatic ring with four carbon atoms and one oxygen. The class of compounds containing such rings are also referred to as furans....

 form of fructose
Fructose
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847...

.

Valence tautomerism

Valence tautomerism is a type of tautomerism in which single and/or double bonds are rapidly formed and ruptured, without migration of atoms or groups. It is distinct from prototropic tautomerism, and involves processes with rapid reorganisation of bonding electrons. An example of this type of tautomerism can be found in bullvalene
Bullvalene
Bullvalene is a hydrocarbon with the chemical formula C10H10 with the unusual property that the chemical bonds making up the molecule are constantly rearranging as in fluxional molecules...

. Another example is open and closed forms of certain heterocycles, such as azide
Azide
Azide is the anion with the formula N3−. It is the conjugate base of hydrazoic acid. N3− is a linear anion that is isoelectronic with CO2 and N2O. Per valence bond theory, azide can be described by several resonance structures, an important one being N−=N+=N−...

 - tetrazole
Tetrazole
Tetrazoles are a class of synthetic organic heterocyclic compound, consisting of a 5-member ring of four nitrogen and one carbon atom . The simplest is tetrazole itself, CN4H2. They are unknown in nature...

 or mesoionic
Mesoionic
Mesoionic chemical compounds are dipolar five- or six- membered heterocyclic compounds in which both the negative and the positive charges are delocalized...

 münchnone-acylamino ketene. Valence tautomerism requires a change in molecular geometry and should not be confused with canonical resonance structures or mesomers.
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