DEER distance measurements on proteins

Annu Rev Phys Chem. 2012;63:419-46. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physchem-032511-143716. Epub 2012 Jan 30.


Distance distributions between paramagnetic centers in the range of 1.8 to 6 nm in membrane proteins and up to 10 nm in deuterated soluble proteins can be measured by the DEER technique. The number of paramagnetic centers and their relative orientation can be characterized. DEER does not require crystallization and is not limited with respect to the size of the protein or protein complex. Diamagnetic proteins are accessible by site-directed spin labeling. To characterize structure or structural changes, experimental protocols were optimized and techniques for artifact suppression were introduced. Data analysis programs were developed, and it was realized that interpretation of the distance distributions must take into account the conformational distribution of spin labels. First methods have appeared for deriving structural models from a small number of distance constraints. The present scope and limitations of the technique are illustrated.