The influence of aqueous versus glassy solvents on protein dynamics: vibrational echo experiments and molecular dynamics simulations

J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Oct 19;127(41):14279-89. doi: 10.1021/ja053627w.


Spectrally resolved infrared stimulated vibrational echo measurements are used to measure the vibrational dephasing of the CO stretching mode of carbonmonoxy-hemoglobin (HbCO), a myoglobin mutant (H64V), and a bacterial cytochrome c(552) mutant (Ht-M61A) in aqueous solution and trehalose glasses. The vibrational dephasing of the heme-bound CO is significantly slower for all three proteins embedded in trehalose glasses compared to that of aqueous protein solutions. All three proteins exhibit persistent but notably slower spectral diffusion when the protein surface is fixed by the glassy solvent. Frequency-frequency correlation functions (FFCFs) of the CO are extracted from the vibrational echo data to reveal that the structural dynamics, as sensed by the CO, of the three proteins in trehalose and aqueous solution are dominated by fast (tens of femtoseconds), motionally narrowed fluctuations. MD simulations of H64V in dynamic and "static" water are presented as models of the aqueous and glassy environments. FFCFs are calculated from the H64V simulations and qualitatively reproduce the important features of the experimentally extracted FFCFs. The suppression of long time scale (picoseconds to tens of picoseconds) frequency fluctuations (spectral diffusion) in the glassy solvent is the result of a damping of atomic displacements throughout the protein structure and is not limited to structural dynamics that occur only at the protein surface. The analysis provides evidence that some dynamics are coupled to the hydration shell of water, supporting the idea that the bioprotection offered by trehalose is due to its ability to immobilize the protein surface through a thin, constrained layer of water.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation*
  • Glass / chemistry
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared / methods
  • Trehalose / chemistry
  • Vibration
  • Water / chemistry


  • Proteins
  • Solvents
  • Water
  • Trehalose