Quantum mechanics studies of the intrinsic conformation of trehalose

Alfred D. French*, Glenn P. Johnson, Anne Marie Kelterer, Michael K. Dowd, Christopher J. Cramer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To resolve controversies over the intrinsic shape of the disaccharide α,α-trehalose and the magnitude of solvent effects, energy surfaces have been computed at different levels of molecular orbital and density functional theory. All quantum mechanical (QM) levels agree that the gauche linkage conformations observed by experimental crystallographic and solution studies are 5-7 kcal/mol lower in energy than that of the trans shape. This is quite different than the findings of the two most recent classical force field studied. In those projects, the trans shape was preferred by 3.3 kcal/mol, and it was inferred that a strong solvent effect was responsible for the gauche experimental conformations. In the QM work, a strong solvent effect is not needed to explain the preference for the gauche form because the trans shapes already have higher energy. A QM continuum model of aqueous solvation has only small effects on the torsional energy surface. The best rationalization of 24 values of the linkage torsion angles from small-molecule crystal structures is provided by HF/6-311++G**//B3LYP/6-31G* theory, a level that under-predicts the strength of hydrogen bonds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4988-4997
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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