Free proline amino acid is a natural cryoprotectant expressed by numerous organisms under low-temperature stress. Previous reports have suggested that complex assemblies underlie its functional properties. We investigate here aqueous proline solutions as a function of temperature using combinations of Raman spectroscopy, Rayleigh-Brillouin light scattering, and molecular dynamics simulations with the view to revealing the molecular origins of the mixtures' functionality as a cryoprotectant. The evolution of the Brillouin frequency shifts and line widths with temperature shows that, above a critical proline concentration, the water-like dynamics is suppressed and viscoelastic behavior emerges: Here, the Landau-Placzek ratio also shows a temperature-independent maximum arising from concentration fluctuations. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal that the water-water correlations in the mixtures depend much more weakly on temperature than does bulk water. By contrast, the water OH Raman bands exhibit strong red-shifts on cooling similar to those seen in ices; however, no evidence of ice lattice phonons is observed in the low-frequency spectrum. We attribute this primarily to enhanced proline-water hydrogen bonding. In general, the picture that emerges is that aqueous proline is a heterogeneous mixture on molecular length scales (characterized by significant concentration fluctuations rather than well-defined aggregates). Simulations reveal that proline also appears to suppress the normal dependence of water structure on temperature and preserves the ambient-temperature correlations even in very cold solutions. The water structure in cold proline solutions therefore appears to be similar to that at a higher effective temperature. This,. coupled with the emergence of glassy dynamics offers a molecular explanation for the functional properties of proline as a cryoprotectant without the need to invoke previously proposed complex aggregates.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Physical Chemistry B (Soft Condensed Matter and Biophysical Chemistry)|
|Publication status||Published - 10 Apr 2008|
- LANDAU-PLACZEK RATIO