In order to understand the influence of alkyl side chains on the gas-phase reactivity of 1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives, some 2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives have been prepared and studied by electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry in combination with computational quantum chemistry calculations. Protonation and deprotonation sites were suggested on the basis of gas-phase basicity, proton affinity, gas-phase acidity (ΔG(acid) ), atomic charges and frontier orbital analyses. The nature of the intramolecular interaction as well as of the hydrogen bond in the systems was investigated by the atoms-in-molecules theory and the natural bond orbital analysis. The results were compared with data published for lapachol (2-hydroxy-3-(3-methyl-2-butenyl)-1,4-naphthoquinone). For the protonated molecules, water elimination was verified to occur at lower proportion when compared with side chain elimination, as evidenced in earlier studies on lapachol. The side chain at position C(3) was found to play important roles in the fragmentation mechanisms of these compounds.
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