The conformation of end-groups is one determinant of carotenoid topology suitable for high fidelity molecular recognition: a study of beta- and epsilon-end-groups

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2010 Jan 15;493(2):169-74. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Oct 20.


Conformation affects a carotenoid's ability to bind selectively to proteins. We calculated adiabatic energy profiles for rotating the ring end-groups around the C6C7 bond and for flexing of the ring with respect to the polyene chain. The choice of computational methods is important. A low, 4.2 kcal/mol barrier to rotation exists for a beta-ring. An 8.3 kcal/mol barrier exists for rotation of an epsilon-ring. Rotation of the epsilon-ring is sensitive to substitution at C3. In the absence of external forces neither beta- nor epsilon-rings are rotationally constrained. The nearly parallel alignment of the beta-ring to the C6C7 bond axis contrasts to the more perpendicular orientation of the epsilon-ring. Flexion of a beta-ring to the minimized epsilon-ring conformation requires approximately 23 kcal/mol; extension of the epsilon-ring to the minimized beta-ring conformation requires approximately 8 kcal/mol. Selectivity associated with beta- versus epsilon-rings is dominated by the inability of the beta-ring to flex to minimize protein/ring steric interactions and maximize van der Waal's attractions with the binding site.

MeSH terms

  • Carotenoids / chemistry*
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Thermodynamics


  • Carotenoids