Efforts to develop a quantitative understanding of molecular recognition rely on the additivity of individual intermolecular interactions, and cooperativity represents one of the major potential stumbling blocks. A chemical double-mutant cycle has been used to experimentally measure cooperativity between functional group interactions within a complex framework. The interaction between two aromatic groups varies by 0.2 ± 0.4 kJ mol-1 in synthetic H-bonded complexes that differ by 8-13 kJ mol -1 in overall stability. In these systems, the free energies associated with individual intermolecular interactions can therefore be reliably treated in an additive fashion. The results suggest that alternative explanations should be considered for cooperative phenomena observed in other systems, and a rationale based on the population of partially bound states in flexible molecules is proposed to account for the enthalpic chelate effect and enthalpy-entropy compensation.
Hunter, C. A., & Tomas, S. (2003). Cooperativity, partially bound states, and enthalpy-entropy compensation. Chemistry and Biology, 10(11), 1023–1032. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chembiol.2003.10.009