We study the interaction between the ions methylguanidinium and trifluoroacetate dissolved in D2O and dimethylsulfoxide with linear infrared spectroscopy and femtosecond two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy. These ions constitute model systems for the side chains of arginine and glutamic and aspartic acid that are known to form salt bridges in proteins. We find that the salt-bridge formation of methylguanidinium and trifluoroacetate leads to a significant acceleration of the vibrational relaxation dynamics of the antisymmetric COO stretching vibration of the carboxyl moiety of trifluoroacetate. Salt-bridge formation has little effect on the rate of the spectral fluctuations of the CN stretching vibrations of methylguanidinium. The anisotropy of the cross peaks between the antisymmetric COO stretching vibration of trifluoroacetate and the CN stretching vibrations of methylguanidinium reveals that the salt-bridge is preferentially formed in a bidentate end-on configuration in which the two C=O groups of the carboxylate moiety form strong hydrogen bonds with the two -NH2 groups of methylguanidinium.

J. Chem. Phys.
Ultrafast Spectroscopy

Lotze, S, & Bakker, H.J. (2015). Structure and dynamics of a salt-bridge model system in water and DMSO. J. Chem. Phys., 142(21, Article number: 212436), 1–9. doi:10.1063/1.4918904