Specific 12CβD(2)12CγD(2)S13CεHD(2) isotopomer labeling of methionine to characterize protein dynamics by 1H and 13C NMR relaxation dispersion

J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Nov 14;134(45):18562-5. doi: 10.1021/ja309294u. Epub 2012 Nov 2.


Protein dynamics on the micro- to millisecond time scale is increasingly found to be critical for biological function, as demonstrated by numerous NMR relaxation dispersion studies. Methyl groups are excellent probes of protein interactions and dynamics because of their favorable NMR relaxation properties, which lead to sharp signals in the (1)H and (13)C NMR spectra. Out of the six different methyl-bearing amino acid residue types in proteins, methionine plays a special role because of its extensive side-chain flexibility and the high polarizability of the sulfur atom. Methionine is over-represented in many protein-protein recognition sites, making the methyl group of this residue type an important probe of the relationships among dynamics, interactions, and biological function. Here we present a straightforward method to label methionine residues with specific (13)CHD(2) methyl isotopomers against a deuterated background. The resulting protein samples yield NMR spectra with improved sensitivity due to the essentially 100% population of the desired (13)CHD(2) methyl isotopomer, which is ideal for (1)H and (13)C spin relaxation experiments to investigate protein dynamics in general and conformational exchange in particular. We demonstrate the approach by measuring (1)H and (13)C CPMG relaxation dispersion for the nine methionines in calcium-free calmodulin (apo-CaM). The results show that the C-terminal domain, but not the N-terminal domain, of apo-CaM undergoes fast exchange between the ground state and a high-energy state. Since target proteins are known to bind specifically to the C-terminal domain of apo-CaM, we speculate that the high-energy state might be involved in target binding through conformational selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Deuterium / chemistry
  • Hydrogen / chemistry
  • Isotope Labeling*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Methionine / chemistry*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Protons
  • Sulfur / chemistry


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Proteins
  • Protons
  • Sulfur
  • Carbon
  • Hydrogen
  • Methionine
  • Deuterium