Dynamics of proteins encapsulated in silica sol-gel glasses studied with IR vibrational echo spectroscopy

J Am Chem Soc. 2006 Mar 29;128(12):3990-7. doi: 10.1021/ja058745y.


Spectrally resolved infrared stimulated vibrational echo spectroscopy is used to measure the fast dynamics of heme-bound CO in carbonmonoxy-myoglobin (MbCO) and -hemoglobin (HbCO) embedded in silica sol-gel glasses. On the time scale of approximately 100 fs to several picoseconds, the vibrational dephasing of the heme-bound CO is measurably slower for both MbCO and HbCO relative to that of aqueous protein solutions. The fast structural dynamics of MbCO, as sensed by the heme-bound CO, are influenced more by the sol-gel environment than those of HbCO. Longer time scale structural dynamics (tens of picoseconds), as measured by the extent of spectral diffusion, are the same for both proteins encapsulated in sol-gel glasses compared to that in aqueous solutions. A comparison of the sol-gel experimental results to viscosity-dependent vibrational echo data taken on various mixtures of water and fructose shows that the sol-gel-encapsulated MbCO exhibits dynamics that are the equivalent of the protein in a solution that is nearly 20 times more viscous than bulk water. In contrast, the HbCO dephasing in the sol-gel reflects only a 2-fold increase in viscosity. Attempts to alter the encapsulating pore size by varying the molar ratio of silane precursor to water (R value) used to prepare the sol-gel glasses were found to have no effect on the fast or steady-state spectroscopic results. The vibrational echo data are discussed in the context of solvent confinement and protein-pore wall interactions to provide insights into the influence of a confined environment on the fast structural dynamics experienced by a biomolecule.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Carboxyhemoglobin / chemistry*
  • Glass
  • Heme / chemistry
  • Myoglobin / chemistry*
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry*
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared / methods*
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Static Electricity


  • Myoglobin
  • carboxymyoglobin
  • Heme
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Carboxyhemoglobin