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Biophys J. 2009 Apr 22;96(8):3354-62. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2009.01.034.

EPR of Cu2+ prion protein constructs at 2 GHz using the g(perpendicular) region to characterize nitrogen ligation.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.


A double octarepeat prion protein construct, which has two histidines, mixed with copper sulfate in a 3:2 molar ratio provides at most three imidazole ligands to each copper ion to form a square-planar Cu(2+) complex. This work is concerned with identification of the fourth ligand. A new (to our knowledge) electron paramagnetic resonance method based on analysis of the intense features of the electron paramagnetic resonance spectrum in the g( perpendicular) region at 2 GHz is introduced to distinguish between three and four nitrogen ligands. The methodology was established by studies of a model system consisting of histidine imidazole ligation to Cu(2+). In this spectral region at 2 GHz (S-band), g-strain and broadening from the possible rhombic character of the Zeeman interaction are small. The most intense line is identified with the M(I) = +1/2 extra absorption peak. Spectral simulation demonstrated that this peak is insensitive to cupric A(x) and A(y) hyperfine interaction. The spectral region to the high-field side of this peak is uncluttered and suitable for analysis of nitrogen superhyperfine couplings to determine the number of nitrogens. The spectral region to the low-field side of the intense extra absorption peak in the g( perpendicular) part of the spectrum is sensitive to the rhombic distortion parameters A(x) and A(y). Application of the method to the prion protein system indicates that two species are present and that the dominant species contains four nitrogen ligands. A new loop-gap microwave resonator is described that contains approximately 1 mL of frozen sample.

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