Hydration structure of the α-chymotrypsin substrate binding pocket: The impact of constrained geometry

Christina Carey, Yuen Kit CHENG, Peter J. Rossky

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


The concave substrate binding pocket of α-chymotrypsin binds specifically hydrophobic side chains. In order to understand the hydration structure present in the absence of substrate, and elucidate the character of the solvent displaced on binding, molecular dynamics computer simulation of the solvent in a fully hydrated protein has been carried out and analyzed. The pocket is found to be characterized in terms of a mixed polar and apolar macromolecular surface. It is shown that the simulated solvent structure within it is spatially consistent with that seen via crystallography. The solvent structure is energetically characterized by large losses in hydrogen bonding among solvent molecules except at the mouth of the pocket where exposure to bulk-like solvent is possible. The loss in hydrogen bonding is attributed to the highly constrained geometry available to the solvent, preventing formation of a hydrogen bonding network, with only partial compensation by interactions with the macromolecular surface. The solvent displacement concomitant with substrate binding will therefore be associated with a large enthalpic driving force. This result is at the extreme of a continuum of variable cases of 'hydrophobic' hydration, which differ most basically in surface curvature. These range from convex solute surfaces, inducing clathrate-like structures, with negligible hydrogen bond loss, to flat surfaces with significant interfacial loss, to the present concave case with hydrogen bonding losses exceeding 50%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-425
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Physics
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2000

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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