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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 1999;72(4):367-405.

Structure and dynamics of membrane proteins as studied by infrared spectroscopy.

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Unidad de Biofísica (Centro Mixto CSIC-UPV/EHU), Bilbao, Spain.


Infrared (IR) spectroscopy is a useful technique in the study of protein conformation and dynamics. The possibilities of the technique become apparent specially when applied to large proteins in turbid suspensions, as is often the case with membrane proteins. The present review describes the applications of IR spectroscopy to the study of membrane proteins, with an emphasis on recent work and on spectra recorded in the transmission mode, rather than using reflectance techniques. Data treatment procedures are discussed, including band analysis and difference spectroscopy methods. A technique for the analysis of protein secondary and tertiary structures that combines band analysis by curve-fitting of original spectra with protein thermal denaturation is described in detail. The assignment of IR protein bands in H2O and in D2O, one of the more difficult points in protein IR spectroscopy, is also reviewed, including some cases of unclear assignments such as loops, beta-hairpins, or 3(10)-helices. The review includes monographic studies of some membrane proteins whose structure and function have been analysed in detail by IR spectroscopy. Special emphasis has been made on the role of subunit III in cytochrome c oxidase structure, and the proton pathways across this molecule, on the topology and functional cycle of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase, and on the role of lipids in determining the structure of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. In addition, shorter descriptions of retinal proteins and references to other membrane proteins that have been studied less extensively are also included.

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