Hybrid Approaches to Structural Characterization of Conformational Ensembles of Complex Macromolecular Systems Combining NMR Residual Dipolar Couplings and Solution X-ray Scattering

Chem Rev. 2016 Jun 8;116(11):6305-22. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.5b00592. Epub 2016 Jan 7.


Solving structures or structural ensembles of large macromolecular systems in solution poses a challenging problem. While NMR provides structural information at atomic resolution, increased spectral complexity, chemical shift overlap, and short transverse relaxation times (associated with slow tumbling) render application of the usual techniques that have been so successful for medium sized systems (<50 kDa) difficult. Solution X-ray scattering, on the other hand, is not limited by molecular weight but only provides low resolution structural information related to the overall shape and size of the system under investigation. Here we review how combining atomic resolution structures of smaller domains with sparse experimental data afforded by NMR residual dipolar couplings (which yield both orientational and shape information) and solution X-ray scattering data in rigid-body simulated annealing calculations provides a powerful approach for investigating the structural aspects of conformational dynamics in large multidomain proteins. The application of this hybrid methodology is illustrated for the 128 kDa dimer of bacterial Enzyme I which exists in a variety of open and closed states that are sampled at various points in the catalytic cycles, and for the capsid protein of the human immunodeficiency virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Capsid Proteins / chemistry
  • Capsid Proteins / metabolism
  • HIV-1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Scattering, Small Angle
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Capsid Proteins
  • Proteins