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Journal Articles Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry Year : 2005

Combining high-field EPR with site-directed spin labeling reveals unique information on proteins in action

K. Möbius
  • Function : Author
A. Savitsky
  • Function : Author
C. Wegener
  • Function : Author
M. Plato
  • Function : Author
A. Schnegg
  • Function : Author
A. Dubinskii
  • Function : Author
Y. Grishin
  • Function : Author
I. Grigor'Ev
  • Function : Author
M. Kühn
  • Function : Author
H. Zimmermann
  • Function : Author
H.-J. Steinhoff
  • Function : Author


In the last decade, joint efforts of biologists, chemists and physicists have helped in understanding the dominant factors determining specificity and directionality of transmembrane transfer processes in proteins. In this endeavor, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy has played an important role. Characteristic examples of such determining factors are hydrogen-bonding patterns and polarity effects of the microenvironment of protein sites involved in the transfer process. These factors may undergo characteristic changes during the reaction and, thereby, control the efficiency of biological processes, e.g. light-induced electron and proton transfer across photosynthetic membranes or ion-channel formation of bacterial toxins. In case the transfer process does not involve stable or transient paramagnetic species or states, site-directed spin labeling with suitable nitroxide radicals still allows EPR techniques to be used for studying structure and conformational dynamics of the proteins in action. By combining site-directed spin labeling with high-field/high-frequency EPR, unique information on the proteins is revealed, which is complementary to that of X-ray crystallography, solid-state NMR, FRET, fast infrared and optical spectroscopic techniques. The main object of this publication is twofold: (i) to review our recent spin-label high-field EPR work on the bacteriorhodopsin light-driven proton pump from Halobacterium salinarium and the Colicin A ion-channel forming bacterial toxin produced in Escherichia coli, (ii) to report on novel high-field EPR experiments for probing site-specific pK(a) values in protein systems by means of pH-sensitive nitroxide spin labels. Taking advantage of the improved spectral and temporal resolution of high-field EPR at 95 GHz/3.4 T and 360 GHz/12.9 T, as compared to conventional X-band EPR (9.5 GHz/0.34 T), detailed information on the transient intermediates of the proteins in biological action is obtained. These intermediates can be observed and characterized while staying in their working states on biologically relevant timescales. The paper concludes with an outlook of ongoing high-field EPR experiments on site-specific protein mutants in our laboratories at FU Berlin and Osnabrück.

Dates and versions

hal-02893997 , version 1 (08-07-2020)



K. Möbius, A. Savitsky, C. Wegener, M. Plato, M. Fuchs, et al.. Combining high-field EPR with site-directed spin labeling reveals unique information on proteins in action. Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry, 2005, 43 (S1), pp.S4-S19. ⟨10.1002/mrc.1690⟩. ⟨hal-02893997⟩
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