Relaxation-optimized NMR spectroscopy of methylene groups in proteins and nucleic acids

J Am Chem Soc. 2004 Sep 1;126(34):10560-70. doi: 10.1021/ja047904v.


A large fraction of hydrogens in proteins and nucleic acids is of the methylene type. Their detailed study, however, in terms of structure and dynamics by NMR spectroscopy is hampered by their fast relaxation properties, which give rise to low sensitivity and resolution. It is demonstrated that six different relaxation interference processes, involving 1H-13C and 1H-1H dipolar interactions and 1H and 13C chemical shift anisotropy, can be used simultaneously to mitigate these problems effectively. The approach is applicable to the majority of NMR experiments commonly used to study side chain and backbone conformation. For proteins, its efficiency is evaluated quantitatively for two samples: the third IgG-binding domain from Streptococcal Protein G and the protein calmodulin complexed with a 26-residue target peptide. Gains in both resolution and sensitivity by up to factors of 3.2 and 2.0, respectively, are observed for Gly residues at high magnetic field strengths, but even at much lower fields gains remain substantial. The resolution enhancement obtained for methylene groups makes possible a detailed analysis of spectral regions commonly considered inaccessible due to spectral crowding. For DNA, the high resolution now obtainable for C5' sites permits an H5'/H5''-based sequential NOE assignment procedure, complementary to the conventional base-H1'/H2'/H2'' pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • DNA / chemistry*
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Methane / analogs & derivatives*
  • Methane / chemistry*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular / methods*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Proteins / chemistry*


  • Hydrocarbons
  • Proteins
  • carbene
  • DNA
  • Methane