The Influence of Dielectric Constant on Ionic and Non-polar Interactions

  • Hwang, Kae-Jung (Bioinformatics & Molecular Design Technology Inovation Center) ;
  • Nam, Ky-Youb (Bioinformatics & Molecular Design Technology Inovation Center) ;
  • Kim, Jung-Sup (Bioinformatics & Molecular Design Technology Inovation Center) ;
  • Cho, Kwang-Hwi (Baker Laboratory of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University) ;
  • Kong, Seong-Gon (Department of Electrical Engineering, Soongsil University) ;
  • No, Kyoung-Tai (Bioinformatics & Molecular Design Technology Inovation Center)
  • Published : 2003.01.20


This work is focused on analyzing ion-pair interactions and showing the effect of solvent induced inter-atomic attractions in various dielectric environments. To estimate the stability of ion-pairs, SCI-PCM ab initio MO calculations were carried out. We show that the solvent-induced attraction or ‘cavitation' energy of the ion-pair interactions in solution that arises mainly from the stabilization of the water molecules by the generation of an electrostatic field. In fact, even the strong electrostatic interaction characteristic of ion-pair interactions in the gas phase cannot overcome the destabilization or reorganization of the water molecules around solute cavities that arise from cancellation of the electrostatic field. The solvent environment, possibly supplemented by some specific solvent molecules, may help place the solute molecule in a cavity whose surroundings are characterized by an infinite polarizable dielectric medium. This behavior suggests that hydrophobic residues at a protein surface could easily contact the side chains of other nearby residues through the solvent environment, instead of by direct intra-molecular interactions.


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