An NH moiety is not required for anion binding to amides in aqueous solution

Kelvin B. Rembert, Halil I. Okur, Christian Hilty, Paul S. Cremer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Herein, we use a combination of thermodynamic and spectroscopic measurements to investigate the interactions of Hofmeister anions with a thermoresponsive polymer, poly(N,N-diethylacrylamide) (PDEA). This amide-based polymer does not contain an NH moiety in its chemical structure and, thus, can serve as a model to test if anions bind to amides in the absence of an NH site. The lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of PDEA was measured as a function of the concentration for 11 sodium salts in aqueous solutions, and followed a direct Hofmeister series for the ability of anions to precipitate the polymer. More strongly hydrated anions (CO32-, SO42-, S2O32-, H2PO4-, F-, and Cl-) linearly decreased the LCST of the polymer with increasing the salt concentration. Weakly hydrated anions (SCN-, ClO4-, I-, NO3-, and Br-) increased the LCST at lower salt concentrations but salted the polymer out at higher salt concentrations. Proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) was used to probe the mechanism of the salting-in effect and showed apparent binding between weakly hydrated anions (SCN- and I-) and the α protons of the polymer backbone. Additional experiments performed by attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy found little change in the amide I band upon the addition of salt, which is consistent with very limited, if any, interactions between the salt ions and the carbonyl moiety of the amide. These results support a molecular mechanism for ion-specific effects on proteins and model amides that does not specifically require an NH group to interact with the anions for the salting-in effect to occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3459-3464
Number of pages6
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 24 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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