Probing amino acid side chains of the integral membrane protein PagP by solution NMR: Side chain immobilization facilitates association of secondary structures Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Solution NMR spectroscopy of large protein systems is hampered by rapid signal decay, so most multidimensional studies focus on long-lived 1H-13C magnetization in methyl groups and/or backbone amide 1H-15N magnetization in an otherwise perdeuterated environment. Herein we demonstrate that it is possible to biosynthetically incorporate additional 1H-12C groups that possess long-lived magnetization using cost-effective partially deuterated or unlabeled amino acid precursors added to Escherichia coli growth media. This approach is applied to the outer membrane enzyme PagP in membrane-mimetic dodecylphosphocholine micelles. We were able to obtain chemical shift assignments for a majority of side chain 1H positions in PagP using nuclear Overhauser enhancements (NOEs) to connect them to previously assigned backbone 1H-15N groups and newly assigned 1H-13C methyl groups. Side chain methyl-to-aromatic NOEs were particularly important for confirming that the amphipathic α-helix of PagP packs against its eight-stranded β-barrel, as indicated by previous X-ray crystal structures. Interestingly, aromatic NOEs suggest that some aromatic residues in PagP that are buried in the membrane bilayer are highly mobile in the micellar environment, like Phe138 and Phe159. In contrast, Tyr87 in the middle of the bilayer is quite rigid, held in place by a hydrogen bonded network extending to the surface that resembles a classic catalytic triad: Tyr87-His67-Asp61. This hydrogen bonded arrangement of residues is not known to have any catalytic activity, but we postulate that its role is to immobilize Tyr87 to facilitate packing of the amphipathic α-helix against the β-barrel.


  • Goel, Shaista
  • Feisal, M Rafid
  • Danmaliki, Gaddafi I
  • Yu, Shaohui
  • Liu, Philip B
  • Bishop, Russell
  • West, Frederick G
  • Hwang, Peter M

publication date

  • March 2024