A preference for edgewise interactions between aromatic rings and carboxylate anions: The biological relevance of anion-quadrupole interactions

Michael R. Jackson, Robert Beahm, Suman Duvvuru, Chandrasegara Narasimhan, Jun Wu, Hsin Neng Wang, Vivek M. Philip, Robert J. Hinde, Elizabeth E. Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations


Noncovalent interactions are quite important in biological structure-function relationships. To study the pairwise interaction of aromatic amino acids (phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan) with anionic amino acids (aspartic and glutamic acids), small molecule mimics (benzene, phenol or indole interacting with formate) were used at the MP2 level of theory. The overall energy associated widi an anion-quadrupole interaction is substantial (-9.5 kcal/mol for a benzene-formate planar dimer at van der Waals contact distance), indicating the electropositive ring edge of an aromatic group can interact with an anion. Deconvolution of the long-range coplanar interaction energy into fractional contributions from charge-quadrupole interactions, higher-order electrostatic interactions, and polarization terms was achieved. The charge-quadrupole term contributes between 30 to 45% of the total MP2 benzene-formate interaction; most of the rest of the interaction arises from polarization contributions. Additional studies of the Protein Data Bank (PDB Select) show that nearly planar aromatic-anionic amino acid pairs occur more often than expected from a random angular distribution, while axial aromatic-anionic pairs occur less often than expected; this demonstrates the biological relevance of the anion-quadrupole interaction. While water may mitigate the strength of these interactions, they may be numerous in a typical protein structure, so their cumulative effect could be substantial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8242-8249
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - Jul 19 2007
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry

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