Molecular dynamics simulation study of the structural features and inclusion capacities of cucurbit[6]uril derivatives in aqueous solutions

Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were performed for cucurbit[6]uril (CB6) methyl and cyclohexyl derivatives in aqueous solutions. Furthermore, MD simulations have been conducted to study the inclusion complexes between each CB6 derivative with α,ω-pentane diammonium ion (NH3+(CH2)5NH3+) to estimate the binding free energies, the complex geometries and the intermolecular forces responsible for complex formation. Results show a complete inclusion of the guest molecule in the cavity of the host for all complexes. Results also indicate that the guest dynamics inside the cavity of the substituted host is similar to that for the unsubstituted host. This demonstrates that the molecular recognition of the host is not affected by the alkyl substitution at the equator. Also, there is an insignificant conformational change of the macrocyclic structure upon inclusion of the guest. Molecular mechanics/Poisson Boltzmann surface area method was used to estimate the binding free energy of each complex. Results indicate that host–guest electrostatic interactions make the largest contribution to the complex binding free energy. Moreover, van der Waals interactions add significantly to the complex stability. The guest molecules show more or less similar binding free energies with the substituted CB6 that exhibits slightly more negative values than unsubstituted CB6 which is proved also by umbrella sampling.