Tilt and rotational pitch angle of membrane-inserted polypeptides from combined 15N and 2H solid-state NMR spectroscopy

Biochemistry. 2004 Aug 17;43(32):10502-12. doi: 10.1021/bi049409h.


Knowledge of the alignment of alpha-helical polypeptides with respect to the membrane surface and their dynamics in the membrane are key to understanding the functional mechanisms of channels, antibiotics, and signal or translocation peptides. In this paper polypeptides have been labeled with [3,3,3-(2)H(3)]alanine as well as with (15)N at single site amide positions and reconstituted into oriented phospholipid bilayers. A transmembrane and two amphipathic helical polypeptides with the deuterium label at orthogonal positions have been investigated by deuterium and proton-decoupled (15)N solid-state NMR spectroscopy. The (15)N chemical shift measurements and the deuterium quadrupole splitting exhibit a highly complementary functional dependence with respect to the spatial alignment of the polypeptide. Therefore, the combination of these two measurements allows one to determine both the tilt and the rotational pitch angle with high precision. In addition, the deuterium line shape is very sensitive to mosaic spread and the relative orientation of the peptide. The solid-state NMR measurements indicate that the model sequences exhibit a small degree of mosaicity, when at the same time the phospholipid headgroup region is significantly distorted. Furthermore, the (2)H solid-state NMR spectra reveal small orientational and dynamic differences when the fatty acyl chain composition of the phosphatidylcholine bilayers is modified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alanine / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Deuterium / chemistry*
  • Deuterium / metabolism
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / chemistry*
  • Phospholipids / metabolism


  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Peptides
  • Phospholipids
  • Deuterium
  • Alanine