Relative strength of cation-π vs salt-bridge interactions: The G tα(340-350) peptide/rhodopsin system

Matthew A. Anderson, Benhur Ogbay, Rieko Arimoto, Wei Sha, Oleg G. Kisselev, David P. Cistola, Garland R. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Interactions between cationic and aromatic side chains of amino acid residues, the so-called cation-π interaction, are thought to contribute to the overall stability of the folded structure of peptides and proteins. The transferred NOE NMR structure of the Gtα(340-350) peptide bound to photoactivated rhodopsin (R*) geometrically suggests a cation-π interaction stabilizing the structure between the ε-amine of Lys341 and the aromatic ring of the C-terminal residue, Phe350. This interaction has been explored by varying substituents on the phenyl ring to alter the electron density of the aromatic ring of Phe350 and observing the impact on binding of the peptide to R*. The results suggest that while a cation-π interaction geometrically exists in the Gtα(340-350) peptide when bound to R*, its energetic contribution to the stability of the receptor-bound structure is relatively insignificant, as it was not observed experimentally. The presence of an adjacent and competing salt-bridge interaction between the ε-amine of Lys341 and the C-terminal carboxylate of Phe350 effectively shields the charge of the ammonium group. Experimental data supporting a significant cation-π interaction can be regained through a series of Phe350 analogues where the C-terminal carboxyl has been converted to the neutral carboxamide, thus eliminating the shielding salt-bridge. TrNOE NMR experiments confirmed the existence of the cation-π interaction in the carboxamide analogues. Various literature estimates of the strength of cation-π interactions, including some that estimate strengths in excess of salt-bridges, are compromised by omission of the relevant anion in the calculations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7531-7541
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 14 2006


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