Misuse of thermodynamics in the interpretation of isothermal titration calorimetry data for ligand binding to proteins

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Abstract

Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) has given a mass of data on the binding of small molecules to proteins and other biopolymers, with particular interest in drug binding to proteins chosen as therapeutic indicators. Interpretation of the enthalpy data usually follows an unsound protocol that uses thermodynamic relations in circumstances where they do not apply. Errors of interpretation include incomplete definitions of ligand binding and equilibrium constants and neglect of the non-ideality of the solutions under study, leading to unreliable estimates of standard free energies and entropies of binding. The mass of reported thermodynamic functions for ligand binding to proteins estimated from ITC enthalpies alone is consequently of uncertain thermodynamic significance and utility. ITC and related experiments to test the protocol assumptions are indicated. A thermodynamic procedure avoiding equilibrium constants or other reaction models and not requiring protein activities is given. The discussion draws attention to the fundamental but neglected relation between the thermodynamic activity and bioactivity of drugs and to the generally unknown thermodynamic status of ligand solutions, which for drugs relates directly to effective therapeutic dosimetry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-29
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Volume472
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Medicine(all)

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