The journal of physical chemistry. B

Probing the effect of water-water interactions on enzyme activity with salt gradients: a case-study using ribonuclease t1.

PMID 21114308


Water molecules interact with one another via hydrogen bonds. Experimental and theoretical evidence indicates that these hydrogen bonds occur in two modalities--high- and low-angle hydrogen bonding--and that the addition of various solutes to water affects only the number of water molecules participating in a specific type of hydrogen bond interactions, not the nature of the water-water interactions. In this work, we have investigated the effect of each of these hydrogen bonding types upon the activity of the enzyme ribonuclease t1. This was done through perturbation of the water hydrogen bonding distribution by using various salts. Our results indicate that various salts differ in their ability to reduce the enzymatic activity of ribonuclease t1, and this ability is well correlated with the ability of each salt to promote high-angle hydrogen bonding in water. By applying the two-phase model of liquid water (i.e., liquid water being modeled as an equilibrium existing between two phases, LD and HD water), we demonstrate that our results are compatible with the assumption that increasing the population of high-angle hydrogen bonds among water molecules stabilizes the more compact, less active conformations of the enzyme. This indicates that the structures that proteins adopt in water solution depend upon the nature of interactions between water molecules.