Detection of correlated dynamics on multiple timescales by measurement of the differential relaxation of zero- and double-quantum coherences involving sidechain methyl groups in proteins

J Magn Reson. 2006 May;180(1):1-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jmr.2006.01.002. Epub 2006 Feb 10.


Multiple effects may lead to significant differences between the relaxation rates of zero-quantum coherences (ZQC) and double-quantum coherences (DQC) generated between a pair of nuclei in solution. These include the interference between the anisotropic chemical shifts of the two nuclei participating in formation of the ZQC or DQC, the individual dipolar interactions of each of the two nuclei with the same proton, and the slow modulation of the isotropic chemical shifts of the two nuclei due to conformational exchange. Motional events that occur on a timescale much faster than the rotational correlation time (ps-ns) influence the first two effects, while the third results from processes that occur on a far slower timescale (mus-ms). An analysis of the differential relaxation of ZQC and DQC is thus informative about dynamics on the fast as well as the slow timescales. We present here an experiment that probes the differential relaxation of ZQC and DQC involving methyl groups in protein sidechains as an extension to our recently proposed experiments for the protein backbone. We have applied the methodology to (15)N, (13)C-labeled ubiquitin and used a detailed analysis of the measured relaxation rates using a simple single-axis diffusion model to probe the motional restriction of the C(next)H(next) bond vector where C(next) is the carbon that is directly bonded to a sidechain methyl carbon (C(methyl)). Comparison of the present results with the motional restriction of the C(next)C(methyl) bond (S(axis)(2)) reveals that the single-axis diffusion model, while valid in the fringes of the protein and for shorter chain amino acids, proves inadequate in the central protein core for long chain, asymmetrically branched amino acids where more complex motional models are necessary, as is the inclusion of the possibility of correlation between multiple motional modes. In addition, the present measurements report on the modulation of isotropic chemical shifts due to motion on the mus-ms timescale. Three Leu residues (8, 50, and 56) are found to display these effects. These residues lie in regions where chemical shift modulation had been detected previously both in the backbone and sidechain regions of ubiquitin.

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular / methods*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Ubiquitin / chemistry*


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Ubiquitin