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J Biomol NMR. 1992 Jul;2(4):323-34.

Support of 1H NMR assignments in proteins by biosynthetically directed fractional 13C-labeling.

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Institut für Molekularbiologie und Biophysik, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule-Hönggerberg, Zürich, Switzerland.


Biosynthetically directed fractional incorporation of 13C into proteins results in nonrandom 13C-labeling patterns that can be investigated by analysis of the 13C-13C scalar coupling fine structures in heteronuclear 13C-1H or homonuclear 13C-13C correlation experiments. Previously this approach was used for obtaining stereospecific 1H and 13C assignments of the diastereotopic methyl groups of valine and leucine. In the present paper we investigate to what extent the labeling patterns are characteristic for other individual amino acids or groups of amino acids, and can thus be used to support the 1H spin-system identifications. Studies of the hydrolysates of fractionally 13C-labeled proteins showed that the 59 aliphatic carbon positions in the 20 proteinogenic amino acids exhibit 16 different types of 13C-13C coupling fine structures. These provide support for the assignment of the resonances of all methyl groups in a protein, which are otherwise often poorly resolved in homonuclear 1H NMR spectra. In particular, besides the individual methyl assignments in Val and Leu, unambiguous distinctions are obtained between the methyl groups of Ala and Thr, and between the gamma- and delta-methyl groups of Ile. In addition to the methyl resonances, the gamma CH2 groups of Glu and Gln can be uniquely assigned because of the large coupling constant with the delta-carbon, and the identification of most of the other spin systems can be supported on the basis of coupling patterns that are common to small groups of amino acid residues.

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