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Ion-Specific Effects in Carboxylate Binding Sites

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journal contribution
posted on 16.11.2016, 00:00 by Mark J. Stevens, Susan L. B. Rempe
Specific ion binding by carboxylates (−COO) is a broadly important topic because −COO is one of the most common functional groups coordinated to metal ions in metalloproteins and synthetic polymers. We apply quantum chemical methods and the quasi-chemical free-energy theory to investigate how variations in the number of −COO ligands in a binding site determine ion-binding preferences. We study a series of monovalent (Li+, Na+, K+, Cs+) and divalent (Zn2+, Ca2+) ions relevant to experimental work on ion channels and ionomers. Of two competing hypotheses, our results support the ligand field strength hypothesis and follow the reverse Hofmeister series for ion solvation and ion transfer from aqueous solution to binding sites with the preferred number of ligands. New insight arises from the finding that ion-binding sequences can be manipulated and even reversed just by constraining the number of carboxylate ligands in the binding sites. Our results help clarify the discrepancy in ion association between molecular ligands in aqueous solutions and ionomers, and their chemical analogues in ion-channel binding sites.