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J Phys Chem A. 2000 Jun 29;104(25):6069-76.

Structures of protonated arginine dimer and bradykinin investigated by density functional theory: further support for stable gas-phase salt bridges.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720 Received: January 5, 2000; In Final Form: April 11, 2000.


The gas-phase structures and energetics of both protonated arginine dimer and protonated bradykinin were investigated using a combination of molecular mechanics with conformational searching to identify candidate low-energy structures, and density functional theory for subsequent minimization and energy calculations. For protonated arginine dimer, a good correlation (R = 0.88) was obtained between the molecular mechanics and EDF1 6-31+G* energies, indicating that mechanics with MMFF is suitable for finding low-energy conformers. For this ion, the salt-bridge or ion-zwitterion form was found to be 5.7 and 7.2 kcal/mol more stable than the simple protonated or ion-molecule form at the EDF1 6-31++G** and B3LYP 6-311++G** levels. For bradykinin, the correlation between the molecular mechanics and DFT energies was poor (R = 0.28), indicating that many low-energy structures are likely passed over in the mechanics conformational searching. This result suggests that structures of this larger peptide ion obtained using mechanics calculations alone are not necessarily reliable. The lowest energy structure of the salt-bridge form of bradykinin is 10.6 kcal/mol lower in energy (EDF1) than the lowest energy simple protonated form at the 6-311G* level. Similarly, the average energy of all salt-bridge structures investigated is 13.6 kcal/mol lower than the average of all the protonated forms investigated. To the extent that a sufficient number of structures are investigated, these results provide some additional support for the salt-bridge form of bradykinin in the gas phase.

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