Selective Characterization of Microsecond Motions in Proteins by NMR Relaxation
D. Flemming Hansen*†, Haniqiao Feng‡, Zheng Zhou‡, Yawen Bai‡ and Lewis E. Kay*†
The three-dimensional structures of macromolecules fluctuate over a wide range of time-scales. Separating the individual dynamic processes according to frequency is of importance in relating protein motions to biological function and stability. We present here a general NMR method for the specific characterization of microsecond motions at backbone positions in proteins even in the presence of other dynamics such as large-amplitude nanosecond motions and millisecond chemical exchange processes. The method is based on measurement of relaxation rates of four bilinear coherences and relies on the ability of strong continuous radio frequency fields to quench millisecond chemical exchange. The utility of the methodology is demonstrated and validated through two specific examples focusing on the thermo-stable proteins, ubiquitin and protein L, where it is found that small-amplitude microsecond dynamics are more pervasive than previously thought. Specifically, these motions are localized to α helices, loop regions, and regions along the rim of β sheets in both of the proteins examined. A third example focuses on a 28 kDa ternary complex of the chaperone Chz1 and the histones H2A.Z/H2B, where it is established that pervasive microsecond motions are localized to a region of the chaperone that is important for stabilizing the complex. It is further shown that these motions can be well separated from extensive millisecond dynamics that are also present and that derive from exchange of Chz1 between bound and free states. The methodology is straightforward to implement, and data recorded at only a single static magnetic field are required.