Predicted and Experimental NMR Chemical Shifts at Variable Temperatures: The Effect of Protein Conformational Dynamics

Kavli Affiliate: Ann McDermott

| Authors: Xu Yi, Lichirui Zhang, Richard Friesner and Ann E McDermott

| Summary:

NMR chemical shifts provide a sensitive probe of protein structure and dynamics. Prediction of shifts, and therefore interpretation of shifts, particularly for the frequently measured amidic 15N sites, remains a tall challenge. We demonstrate that protein 15N chemical shift prediction from QM/MM predictions can be improved if conformational variation is included via MD sampling, focusing on the antibiotic target, E. coli Dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). Variations of up to 25 ppm in predicted 15N chemical shifts are observed over the trajectory. For solution shifts the average of fluctuations on the low picosecond timescale results in a superior prediction to a single optimal conformation. For low temperature solid state measurements, the histogram of predicted shifts for locally minimized snapshots with specific solvent arrangements sampled from the trajectory explains the heterogeneous linewidths; in other words, the conformations and associated solvent are ‘frozen out’ at low temperatures and result in inhomogeneously broadened NMR peaks. We identified conformational degrees of freedom that contribute to chemical shift variation. Backbone torsion angles show high amplitude fluctuations during the trajectory on the low picosecond timescale. For a number of residues, including I60, ψ varies by up to 60º within a conformational basin during the MD simulations, despite the fact that I60 (and other sites studied) are in a secondary structure element and remain well folded during the trajectory. Fluctuations in ψ appear to be compensated by other degrees of freedom in the protein, including φ of the succeeding residue, resulting in “rocking” of the amide plane with changes in hydrogen bonding interactions. Good agreement for both room temperature and low temperature NMR spectra provides strong support for the specific approach to conformational averaging of computed chemical shifts.

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