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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e43725. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043725. Epub 2012 Sep 11.

An economical method for production of (2)H, (13)CH3-threonine for solution NMR studies of large protein complexes: application to the 670 kDa proteasome.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry, and Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


NMR studies of very high molecular weight protein complexes have been greatly facilitated through the development of labeling strategies whereby (13)CH(3) methyl groups are introduced into highly deuterated proteins. Robust and cost-effective labeling methods are well established for all methyl containing amino acids with the exception of Thr. Here we describe an inexpensive biosynthetic strategy for the production of L-[α-(2)H; β-(2)H;γ-(13)C]-Thr that can then be directly added during protein expression to produce highly deuterated proteins with Thr methyl group probes of structure and dynamics. These reporters are particularly valuable, because unlike other methyl containing amino acids, Thr residues are localized predominantly to the surfaces of proteins, have unique hydrogen bonding capabilities, have a higher propensity to be found at protein nucleic acid interfaces and can play important roles in signaling pathways through phosphorylation. The utility of the labeling methodology is demonstrated with an application to the 670 kDa proteasome core particle, where high quality Thr (13)C,(1)H correlation spectra are obtained that could not be generated from samples prepared with commercially available U-[(13)C,(1)H]-Thr.

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