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J Am Chem Soc. 2014 Jan 8;136(1):188-94. doi: 10.1021/ja407858c. Epub 2013 Dec 16.

Crowding induced collective hydration of biological macromolecules over extended distances.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan , 930 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, United States.


Ultrafast two-dimensional infrared (2D-IR) spectroscopy reveals picosecond protein and hydration dynamics of crowded hen egg white lysozyme (HEWL) labeled with a metal-carbonyl vibrational probe covalently attached to a solvent accessible His residue. HEWL is systematically crowded alternatively with polyethylene glycol (PEG) or excess lysozyme in order to distinguish the chemically inert polymer from the complex electrostatic profile of the protein crowder. The results are threefold: (1) A sharp dynamical jamming-like transition is observed in the picosecond protein and hydration dynamics that is attributed to an independent-to-collective hydration transition induced by macromolecular crowding that slows the hydration dynamics up to an order of magnitude relative to bulk water. (2) The interprotein distance at which the transition occurs suggests collective hydration of proteins over distances of 30-40 Å. (3) Comparing the crowding effects of PEG400 to our previously reported experiments using glycerol exposes fundamental differences between small and macromolecular crowding agents.

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