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J Phys Chem B. 2013 May 2;117(17):4827-35. doi: 10.1021/jp4001658. Epub 2013 Apr 12.

The stabilization effect of dielectric constant and acidic amino acids on arginine-arginine (Arg-Arg) pairings: database survey and computational studies.

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  • 1College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science of Soochow University, Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu, 215123, China.


Database survey in this study revealed that about one-third of the protein structures deposited in the Protein Data Bank (PDB) contain arginine-arginine (Arg-Arg) pairing with a carbon···carbon (CZ···CZ) interaction distance less than 5 Å. All the Arg-Arg pairings were found to bury in a polar environment composed of acidic residues, water molecules, and strong polarizable or negatively charged moieties from binding site or bound ligand. Most of the Arg-Arg pairings are solvent exposed and 68.3% Arg-Arg pairings are stabilized by acidic residues, forming Arg-Arg-Asp/Glu clusters. Density functional theory (DFT) was then employed to study the effect of environment on the pairing structures. It was revealed that Arg-Arg pairings become thermodynamically stable (about -1 kcal/mol) as the dielectric constant increases to 46.8 (DMSO), in good agreement with the results of the PDB survey. DFT calculations also demonstrated that perpendicular Arg-Arg pairing structures are favorable in low dielectric constant environment, while in high dielectric constant environment parallel structures are favorable. Additionally, the acidic residues can stabilize the Arg-Arg pairing structures to a large degree. Energy decomposition analysis of Arg-Arg pairings and Arg-Arg-Asp/Glu clusters showed that both solvation and electrostatic energies contribute significantly to their stability. The results reported herein should be very helpful for understanding Arg-Arg pairing and its application in drug design.

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