Involvement of water in carbohydrate-protein binding

C. Clarke, R. J. Woods, J. Gluska, A. Cooper, M. A. Nutley, G. J. Boons*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The interactions of trimannosides 1 and 2 with Con A were studied to reveal the effects of displacement of well-ordered water molecules on the thermodynamic parameters of protein - ligand complexation. Trisaccharide 2 is a derivative of 1, in which the hydroxyl at C-2 of the central mannose unit is replaced by a hydroxyethyl moiety. Upon binding, this moiety displaces a conserved water molecule present in the Con A binding site. Structural studies by NMR spectroscopy and MD simulations showed that the two compounds have very similar solution conformational properties. MD simulations of the complexes of Con A with 1 and 2 demonstrated that the hydroxyethyl side chain of 2 can establish the same hydrogen bonds in a low energy conformation with the protein binding site as those mediated by the water molecule in the complex of 1 with Con A. Isothermal titration microcalorimetry (ITC) measurements showed that 2 has a more favorable entropy of binding compared to 1. This term, which was expected, arises from the return of the highly ordered water molecule to bulk solution. The favorable entropy term was, however, offset by a relatively large unfavorable enthalpy term. This observation was rationalized by comparing the extent of hydrogen bond and solvation changes during binding. It is proposed that an indirect interaction through a water molecule will provide a larger number of hydrogen bonds in the complex that have higher occupancies than in bulk solution, thereby stabilizing the complex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12238-12247
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes


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