Proteins and Enzymes

ID #2382

Aren't hydrophobic interactions the same as van der waals forces?

Hydrophobic interactions and Van der Waal's forces are caused by different interactions. Hydrophobic interactions occur when nonpolar (hydrophobic) amino acids associate with each other and cluster together to hide from water, usually on the inside of a protein. The Raven textbook describes Van der Waal's forces as "Weak attractions between atoms due to oppositely polarized electron clouds." Prof. Mehrtens simplifies the definition by describing Van der Waal's forces as occurring when molecules are so close that the proton of one atom attracts another molecule's electrons. This occurs at the "Van der Waal's radius," which is a specific distance. They are weak and transiet, but many of them together can be stabilizing. Hydrophobic interactions are also weak, but stronger than Van der Waal's forces. I suggest you take a look at the textbook chapter that describes the different types of bonds as well as their relative strengths. 

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