Metrical Aspects of Three- and Four-Center Hydrogen Bonds

  • George A. Jeffrey
  • Wolfram Saenger


The two-center hydrogen bonds X - H ··· A are by far the most common in all classes of biological molecules, but there is strong evidence, based on neutron diffraction crystal structures, that the three-center bonds occur much more frequently than previously thought. Analyses of small molecule crystal structures indicate that an average of about one quarter of all the NH ⋯ O = C and OH ⋯ O hydrogen bonds are of the three-center type (Table 2.3). Because in the (zwitterionic) amino acids there is a numerical imbalance between the (three) donor properties of the \(- \mathop N\limits^ + {H_3}\) and the (four) acceptor properties of the −CO2, the proportion of three-center bonds is untypically high, amounting to almost three quarters of the total number of hydrogen bonds.


Neutron Diffraction Sulfamic Acid Bifurcate Hydrogen Bond Neutron Diffraction Analysis Neutron Diffrac 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • George A. Jeffrey
    • 1
  • Wolfram Saenger
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of CrystallographyThe University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Institut für KristallographieFreie Universität BerlinGermany

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