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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1995 Nov 10;323(2):279-87.

Differences in the interaction of heparin with arginine and lysine and the importance of these basic amino acids in the binding of heparin to acidic fibroblast growth factor.

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Division of Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


Although the interaction of proteins with glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) such as heparin are of great importance, the general structural requirements for protein- or peptide-GAG interaction have not been well characterized. Electrostatic interactions between sulfate and carboxylate groups on the GAG and basic residues in the protein or peptide dominate the interaction, but the thermodynamics of these electrostatic interactions have not been studied. Arginine residues occur frequently in the known heparin binding sites of proteins. Arginine is also more common than lysine in randomly synthesized 7-mer peptides that bind to immobilized heparin and heparan sulfate. We have used heparin affinity chromatography, equilibrium dialysis, and isothermal titration calorimetry techniques to further investigate these interactions. A 7-mer of arginine eluted from a heparin-affinity column at 0.82 M NaCl, whereas the analogous 7-mer of lysine eluted at 0.64 M. Similarly, the putative heparin binding site peptide (amino acid residues 110-130) from acidic fibroblast growth factor, which contained four lysine and two arginine residues, eluted at 0.50 M, whereas the analogous peptide with six lysine residues eluted at 0.41 M and one with six arginine residues eluted at 0.54 M. At 25 degrees C in 10 mM sodium phosphate, pH 7.4, carboxy and amino termini blocked arginine (blocked arginine) bound to heparin twice as tightly as blocked lysine as measured by equilibrium dialysis Similarly, at 30 degrees C in 10 mM sodium phosphate, pH 7.4, and in water, blocked arginine bound 2.5 times more tightly to anions in heparin than blocked lysine. Using titration calorimetry, the enthalpy of blocked arginine and lysine binding to heparin was 1.14 +/- 0.24 and 0.45 +/- 0.35 kJ/mol, respectively, under identical conditions. Our observations show that blocked arginine- and arginine-containing peptides bound more tightly to GAGs than the analogous lysine species and suggest that the difference was due to the intrinsic properties of the arginine and lysine side chains. The greater affinity of the guanidino cation for sulfate in GAGs is probably due to stronger hydrogen bonding and a more exothermic electrostatic interaction. This can be rationalized by soft acid, soft base concepts.

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