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Biochemistry. 2009 Jun 30;48(25):5782-4. doi: 10.1021/bi900781u.

Significantly improved sensitivity of Q-band PELDOR/DEER experiments relative to X-band is observed in measuring the intercoil distance of a leucine zipper motif peptide (GCN4-LZ).

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA.


Pulsed electron double resonance (PELDOR)/double electron-electron resonance (DEER) spectroscopy is a very powerful structural biology tool in which the dipolar coupling between two unpaired electron spins (site-directed nitroxide spin-labels) is measured. These measurements are typically conducted at X-band (9.4 GHz) microwave excitation using the four-pulse DEER sequence and can often require up to 12 h of signal averaging for biological samples (depending on the spin-label concentration). In this work, we present for the first time a substantial increase in DEER sensitivity obtained by collecting DEER spectra at Q-band (34 GHz), when compared to X-band. The huge boost in sensitivity (factor of 13) demonstrated at Q-band represents a 169-fold decrease in data collection time, reveals a greatly improved frequency spectrum and higher-quality distance data, and significantly increases sample throughput. Thus, the availability of Q-band DEER spectroscopy should have a major impact on structural biology studies using site-directed spin labeling EPR techniques.

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