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The physical basis of carbohydrate-peptide interactions has been explored by probing the structures of a series of complexes generated in a solvent-free environment under molecular beam conditions. A combination of double-resonance IR-UV spectroscopy and quantum-chemical calculations has established the structures of complexes of the model, N-acetyl-L-phenylalanine methylamide, bound to the α and β anomers of methyl D-gluco- and D-galactopyranoside as guests. In all cases, the carbohydrates are bound through hydrogen bonding to the dipeptide chain, although with some differing patterns. The amino acid host "engages" with the most suitable pair of neighboring conjugate sites on each carbohydrate; the specific choice depends on the conformation of the peptide backbone and the configuration and conformation of the carbohydrate ligand. None of the structures is supported by "stacking" interactions with the aromatic ring, despite their common occurrence in bound carbohydrate-protein structures.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Chem Soc

Publication Date





4548 - 4557


Galactose, Gases, Models, Molecular, Molecular Structure, Phenylalanine