Theoretical research on structures of γ-aminobutyric acid and glutamic acid in aqueous conditions

Kei Odai, Tohru Sugimoto, Minoru Kubo, Etsuro Ito*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Even though glutamic acid contains only one more carboxyl group than 7-aminobutyric acid (GABA), these neurotransmitters are recognized by their own specific receptors. To understand the ligand-recognition mechanism of the receptors, we must determine the geometric and electronic structures of GABA and glutamic acid in aqueous conditions using the ab initio calculation. The results of the present study showed that the stable structure of GABA was the extended form, and it attracted both cations and anions. Glutamic acid only attracted cations and was stabilized in four forms in aqueous conditions: Type 1 (an extended form), Type 2 (a rounded form), and Types 3 and 4 (twisted forms of Type 1). The former two types had low energy and the energy barrier between them was estimated to be small. These results showed that most free glutamic acid is present as Type 1, Type 2, and transient forms. The present results therefore suggest that the flexibility of the geometric structures of ligands should be taken into account when we attempt to elucidate the mechanism of recognition between ligands and receptors, in addition to the physicochemical characteristics of ligands and receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-342
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of biochemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes


  • GABA
  • Geometric structure
  • Glutamic acid
  • Molecular orbital method
  • Solvent effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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