Binding methylarginines and methyllysines as free amino acids: a comparative study of multiple supramolecular host classes


Methylated free amino acids are an important class of targets for host-guest chemistry that have recognition properties distinct from those of methylated peptides and proteins. We present comparative binding studies for three different host classes that are each studied with multiple methylated arginines and lysines to determine fundamental structure-function relationships. The hosts studied are all anionic and include three calixarenes, two acyclic cucurbiturils, and two cleft-like hosts. We determined the binding association constants for a panel of methylated amino acids using indicator displacement assays. The calixarene hosts show weak binding that favours the higher methylation states, with the strongest binding observed for trimethyllysine. The acyclic cucurbiturils display stronger binding to the methylated amino acids, and some unique patterns of selectivity. The cleft-like hosts follow two different trends, one shallow host following similar trends to the calixarenes, and the other more closed host binding certain less-methylated amino acids stronger than their per-methylated counterparts. Molecular modeling sheds some light on the different preferences of different hosts. The results identify hosts with selectivities that will be useful for certain biomedical applications. The overall selectivity patterns are explained by a common framework that considers the topology, depth of binding pockets, and functional group participation across all host classes.