Ultrahigh resolution protein structures using NMR chemical shift tensors

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Oct 11;108(41):16974-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103728108. Epub 2011 Oct 3.


NMR chemical shift tensors (CSTs) in proteins, as well as their orientations, represent an important new restraint class for protein structure refinement and determination. Here, we present the first determination of both CST magnitudes and orientations for (13)Cα and (15)N (peptide backbone) groups in a protein, the β1 IgG binding domain of protein G from Streptococcus spp., GB1. Site-specific (13)Cα and (15)N CSTs were measured using synchronously evolved recoupling experiments in which (13)C and (15)N tensors were projected onto the (1)H-(13)C and (1)H-(15)N vectors, respectively, and onto the (15)N-(13)C vector in the case of (13)Cα. The orientations of the (13)Cα CSTs to the (1)H-(13)C and (13)C-(15)N vectors agreed well with the results of ab initio calculations, with an rmsd of approximately 8°. In addition, the measured (15)N tensors exhibited larger reduced anisotropies in α-helical versus β-sheet regions, with very limited variation (18 ± 4°) in the orientation of the z-axis of the (15)N CST with respect to the (1)H-(15)N vector. Incorporation of the (13)Cα CST restraints into structure calculations, in combination with isotropic chemical shifts, transferred echo double resonance (13)C-(15)N distances and vector angle restraints, improved the backbone rmsd to 0.16 Å (PDB ID code 2LGI) and is consistent with existing X-ray structures (0.51 Å agreement with PDB ID code 2QMT). These results demonstrate that chemical shift tensors have considerable utility in protein structure refinement, with the best structures comparable to 1.0-Å crystal structures, based upon empirical metrics such as Ramachandran geometries and χ(1)/χ(2) distributions, providing solid-state NMR with a powerful tool for de novo structure determination.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Carbon Isotopes / chemistry
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Hydrogen / chemistry
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nitrogen Isotopes / chemistry
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • IgG Fc-binding protein, Streptococcus
  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Hydrogen

Associated data

  • PDB/2LGI