Modeling Boronic Acid Based Fluorescent Saccharide Sensors: Computational Investigation of d-Fructose Binding to Dimethylaminomethylphenylboronic Acid

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Designing organic saccharide sensors for use in aqueous solution is a nontrivial endeavor. Incorporation of hydrogen bonding groups on a sensor’s receptor unit to target saccharides is an obvious strategy but not one that is likely to ensure analyte-receptor interactions over analyte-solvent or receptor-solvent interactions. Phenylboronic acids are known to reversibly and covalently bind saccharides (diols in general) with highly selective affinity in aqueous solution. Therefore, recent work has sought to design such sensors and understand their mechanism for allowing fluorescence with bound saccharides. In past work, binding orientations of several saccharides were determined to dimethylaminomethylphenylboronic acid (DMPBA) receptors with an anthracene fluorophore; however, the binding orientation of d-fructose to such a sensor could not be determined. In this work, we investigate the potential binding modes by generating 20 possible bidentate and six possible tridentate modes between fructose and DMPBA, a simplified receptor model. Gas phase and implicit solvent geometry optimizations, with a myriad functional/basis set pairs, were carried out to identify the lowest energy bidentate and tridentate binding modes of d-fructose to DMPBA. An interesting hydrogen transfer was observed during selected bidentate gas phase optimizations; this transfer suggests a strong sharing of the hydrogen atom between the boronate hydroxyl and amine nitrogen.

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Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, v. 59, issue 5, p. 2150-2158