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Keywords:

  • biomolecular recognition;
  • carbonic anhydrase;
  • hydrophobic effect;
  • protein-ligand binding;
  • water
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

It's the water that matters. Pairs of benzo- and perfluorobenzoarylsulfonamide ligands bind to human carbonic anhydrase with a conserved binding geometry, an enthalpy-driven binding, and indistinguishable binding affinities (see picture). These data support the pervasive theory that the lock-and-key model disregards an important component of binding: the water, which fills the binding pocket of the protein and surrounds the ligand.