Insights into domain-domain motions in proteins and RNA from solution NMR.
Many multidomain proteins and ribonucleic acids consist of domains that autonomously fold and that are linked together by flexible junctions. This architectural design allows domains to sample a wide range of positions with respect to one another, yet do so in a way that retains structural specificity, since the number of sampled conformations remains extremely small compared to the total conformations that would be sampled if the domains were connected by an infinitely long linker. This "tuned" flexibility in interdomain conformation is in turn used in many biochemical processes. There is great interest in characterizing the dynamic properties of multidomain systems, and moving beyond conventional descriptions in terms of static structures, toward the characterization of population-weighted ensembles describing a distribution of many conformations sampled in solution. There is also great interest in understanding the design principles and underlying physical and chemical interactions that specify the nature of interdomain flexibility. NMR spectroscopy is one of the most powerful techniques for characterizing motions in complex biomolecules and has contributed greatly toward our basic understanding of dynamics in proteins and nucleic acids and its role in folding, recognition, and signaling. Here, we review methods that have been developed in our laboratories to address these challenges. Our approaches are based on the ability of one domain of the molecule to self-align in a magnetic field, or to dominate the overall orientation of the molecule, so that the conformational freedom of other domains can be assessed by their degree of alignment induced by the aligned part. In turn, this self-alignment ability can be intrinsic or can be caused by tagging appropriate constructs to the molecule of interest. In general, self-alignment is due to magnetic susceptibility anisotropy. Nucleic acids with elongated helices have this feature, as well as several paramagnetic metal centers that can be found in, or attached to, a protein domain.
Ravera, E; Salmon, L; Fragai, M; Parigi, G; Al-Hashimi, H; Luchinat, C
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