The phenomenon of chemical or conformational exchange in NMR spectroscopy has enabled detailed characterization of time-dependent aspects of biomolecular function, including folding, molecular recognition, allostery, and catalysis, on timescales from microsecond to second. Importantly, NMR methods based on a variety of spin relaxation parameters have been developed that provide quantitative information on interconversion kinetics, thermodynamic properties, and structural features of molecular states populated to a fraction of a percent at equilibrium and otherwise unobservable by other NMR approaches. The ongoing development of more sophisticated experimental techniques and the necessity to apply these methods to larger and more complex molecular systems engenders a corresponding need for theoretical advances describing such techniques and facilitating data analysis in applications. This review surveys current aspects of the theory of chemical exchange, as utilized in ZZ-exchange; Hahn and Carr-Purcell-Meiboom-Gill (CPMG) spin-echo; and R1ρ, chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST), and dark state saturation transfer (DEST) spin-locking experiments. The review emphasizes theoretical results for kinetic topologies with more than two interconverting states, both to obtain compact analytical forms suitable for data analysis and to establish conditions for distinguishability between alternative kinetic schemes.
Keywords: Bloch–McConnell; Dynamics; Kinetics; NMR spectroscopy; Spin relaxation.
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