The unusually high proton affinity of Aza-18-crown-6 ether: Implications for the molecular recognition of lysine in peptides by lariat crown ethers
Recent studies have shown that 18-crown-6 ether (18C6) will selectively form adducts in the gas phase with small, lysine containing peptides. The present study extends this work by investigating the ability of aza-18-crown-6 ether (A18C6) and L1 (a simple lariat crown ether derivative of A18C6) to form similar noncovalent adducts with the side chain of lysine in model peptides in the gas phase. The substitution of nitrogen for oxygen greatly increases the proton affinity of A18C6 relative to 18C6 and inhibits the formation of noncovalent adducts with small lysine containing peptides. The proton affinity of A18C6 is determined by the kinetic method to be 250 ± 1 kcal/mol. This value is much higher than that for diethanolamine (228 kcal/mol) or for 18C6 (231 kcal/mol). This unusually high basicity is rationalized by semi-empirical calculations that suggest a highly symmetrical structure for protonated A18C6 in which the three most distant oxygens are able to fold back and hydrogen bond with the protonated nitrogen. In the case of L1, the lariat side chain is attached by an amide bond, lowering the proton affinity of L1 relative to that of A18C6. This allows L1 to form noncovalent adducts with lysine despite the fact that steric repulsion within the cavity of the crown is increased to some extent. The relative ammonium ion affinities of these various crown ethers are shown to serve as qualitative predictors for the molecular recognition of lysine. The order of the relative ammonium ion affinities is 18C6≫L1>A18C6 as determined by the kinetic method. These results suggest that the substitution of nitrogen for oxygen in the crown ether is not beneficial for the molecular recognition of lysine.
© 2002 American Society for Mass Spectrometry. Received January 23, 2002; Revised February 7, 2002; Accepted February 7, 2002; Published online March 27, 2002. The authors gratefully acknowledge funding provided by NSF (Grant CHE-9727566) and the Beckman Institute Foundation. The LCQ mass spectrometer was funded by an instrumentation grant from NSF.