General expressions for R 1ρ relaxation for N-site chemical exchange and the special case of linear chains

J Magn Reson. 2017 Jan;274:36-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jmr.2016.10.015. Epub 2016 Oct 27.


Exploration of dynamic processes in proteins and nucleic acids by spin-locking NMR experiments has been facilitated by the development of theoretical expressions for the R1ρ relaxation rate constant covering a variety of kinetic situations. Herein, we present a generalized approximation to the chemical exchange, Rex, component of R1ρ for arbitrary kinetic schemes, assuming the presence of a dominant major site population, derived from the negative reciprocal trace of the inverse Bloch-McConnell evolution matrix. This approximation is equivalent to first-order truncation of the characteristic polynomial derived from the Bloch-McConnell evolution matrix. For three- and four-site chemical exchange, the first-order approximations are sufficient to distinguish different kinetic schemes. We also introduce an approach to calculate R1ρ for linear N-site schemes, using the matrix determinant lemma to reduce the corresponding 3N×3N Bloch-McConnell evolution matrix to a 3×3 matrix. The first- and second order-expansions of the determinant of this 3×3 matrix are closely related to previously derived equations for two-site exchange. The second-order approximations for linear N-site schemes can be used to obtain more accurate approximations for non-linear N-site schemes, such as triangular three-site or star four-site topologies. The expressions presented herein provide powerful means for the estimation of Rex contributions for both low (CEST-limit) and high (R1ρ-limit) radiofrequency field strengths, provided that the population of one state is dominant. The general nature of the new expressions allows for consideration of complex kinetic situations in the analysis of NMR spin relaxation data.

Keywords: Chemical exchange; N-site chemical exchange; NMR spectroscopy; Nuclear spin relaxation; Rotating-frame relaxation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Kinetics
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Models, Chemical
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Nucleic Acids / chemistry*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Radio Waves


  • Nucleic Acids
  • Proteins