SDSL-ESR-based protein structure characterization

Janez Štrancar, Aleh Kavalenka, Iztok Urbančič, Ajasja Ljubetič, Marcus A. Hemminga
European Biophysics Journal, August 2009; doi: 10.1007/s00249-009-0510-5 (read more here).


As proteins are key molecules in living cells, knowledge about their structure can provide important insights and applications in science, biotechnology, and medicine. However, many protein structures are still a big challenge for existing high-resolution structure-determination methods, as can be seen in the number of protein structures published in the Protein Data Bank. This is especially the case for less-ordered, more hydrophobic and more flexible protein systems. The lack of efficient methods for structure determination calls for urgent development of a new class of biophysical techniques. This work attempts to address this problem with a novel combination of site-directed spin labelling electron spin resonance spectroscopy (SDSL-ESR) and protein structure modelling, which is coupled by restriction of the conformational spaces of the amino acid side chains. Comparison of the application to four different protein systems enables us to generalize the new method and to establish a general procedure for determination of protein structure.