Determination of Biomolecular Interdomain Motions using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

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Qi, Yang


Oas, Terrence G

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Biological macromolecules can rearrange interdomain orientations when binding to various partners. Interdomain dynamics serve as a molecular mechanism to guide the transitions between orientations. However, our understanding of interdomain dynamics is limited because a useful description of interdomain motions requires an estimate of the probabilities of interdomain conformations, increasing complexity of the problem.

Staphylococcal protein A (SpA) has five tandem protein-binding domains and four interdomain linkers. The domains enable Staphylococcus aureus to evade the host immune system by binding to multiple host proteins including antibodies. Here, I present a study of the interdomain motions of two adjacent domains in SpA. NMR spin relaxation experiments identified a 6-residue flexible interdomain linker and interdomain motions. To quantify the anisotropy of the distribution of interdomain orientations, we measured residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) from the two domains with multiple alignments. The N-terminal domain was directly aligned by a lanthanide ion and not influenced by interdomain motions, so it acted as a reference frame to achieve motional decoupling. We also applied {\it de novo} methods to extract spatial dynamic information from RDCs and represent interdomain motions as a continuous distribution on the 3D rotational space. Significant anisotropy was observed in the distribution, indicating the motion populates some interdomain orientations more than others. Statistical thermodynamic analysis of the observed orientational distribution suggests that it is among the energetically most favorable orientational distributions for binding to antibodies. Thus, the affinity is enhanced by a pre-posed distribution of interdomain orientations while maintaining the flexibility required for function.

The protocol described above can be applied to other biological systems in general. Protein molecule calmodulin and RNA molecule trans-activation response element (TAR) also have intensive interdomain motions with relative small intradomain dynamics. Their interdomain motions were studied using our method based on published RDC data. Our results were consistent with literature results in general. The differences could be due to previous studies' use of physical models, which contain assumptions about potential energy and thus introduced non-experimental information into the interpretations.






Qi, Yang (2016). Determination of Biomolecular Interdomain Motions using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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