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Biophys Chem. 2006 Feb 1;119(3):271-81. Epub 2005 Oct 5.

Ion hydration: Implications for cellular function, polyelectrolytes, and protein crystallization.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Maryland Medical School, 108 N. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1503, USA.


Only oppositely charged ions with matching absolute free energies of hydration spontaneously form inner sphere ion pairs in free solution [K.D.Collins, Ions from the Hofmeister series and osmolytes: effects on proteins in solution and in the crystallization process, Methods 34 (2004) 300-311.]. We approximate this with a Law of Matching Water Affinities which is used to examine the issues of (1) how ions are selected to be compatible with the high solubility requirements of cytosolic components; (2) how cytosolic components tend to interact weakly, so that association or dissociation can be driven by environmental signals; (3) how polyelectrolytes (nucleic acids) differ from isolated charges (in proteins); (4) how ions, osmolytes and polymers are used to crystallize proteins; and (5) how the "chelate effect" is used by macromolecules to bind ions at specific sites even when there is a mismatch in water affinity between the ion and the macromolecular ligands.

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