Solvation free energy of amino acids and side-chain analogues

Jaeeon Chang, Abraham M. Lenhoff, Stanley I. Sandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


The solvation free energies of amino acids and their side-chain analogues in water and cyclohexane are calculated by using Monte Carlo simulation The molecular interactions are described by the OPLS-AA force field for the amino acids and the TIP4P model for water, and the free energies are determined by using the Bennett acceptance method. Results for the side-chain analogues in cyclohexane and in water are used to evaluate the performance of the force field for the van der Waals and the electrostatic interactions, respectively. Comparison of the calculated hydration free energies for the amino acid analogues and the full amino acids allows assessment of the additivity of the side chain contributions on the number of hydrating water molecules. The hydration free energies of neutral amino acids can be reasonably approximated by adding the contributions of their side chains to that of the hydration of glycine. However, significant nonadditivity in the free energy is found for the zwitterionic form of amino acids with polar side chains. In serine and threonine, intramolecular hydrogen bonds are formed between the polar side chains and backbone groups, leading to weaker solvation than for glycine. In contrast, such nonadditivity is not observed in tyrosine, in which the hydroxyl group is farther separated from, and therefore cannot form an intramolecular hydrogen bond with, the backbone. For histidine we find that a water molecule can form a bridge when the intramolecular hydrogen bond between the polar group and the backbone is broken.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2098-2106
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2007


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