The choreography of protein vibrations : Improved methods of observing and simulating the infrared absorption of proteins

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Stockholm University

Abstract: The work presented in this thesis has striven toward improving the capability to study proteins using infrared (IR) spectroscopy. This includes development of new and improved experimental and theoretical methods to selectively observe and simulate protein vibrations.A new experimental method of utilising adenylate kinase and apyrase as helper enzymes to alter the nucleotide composition and to perform isotope exchange in IR samples was developed. This method enhances the capability of IR spectroscopy by enabling increased duration of measurement time, making experiments more repeatable and allowing investigation of partial reactions and selected frequencies otherwise difficult to observe. The helper enzyme mediated isotope exchange allowed selective observation of the vibrations of the catalytically important phosphate group in a nucleotide dependent protein such as the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase. This important and representative member of P-type ATPases was further investigated in a different study, where a pathway for the protons countertransported in the Ca2+-ATPase reaction cycle was proposed based on theoretical considerations. The transport mechanism was suggested to involve separate pathways for the ions and the protons.Simulation of the IR amide I band of proteins enables and supports structure-spectra correlations. The characteristic stacking of beta-sheets observed in amyloid structures was shown to induce a band shift in IR spectra based on simulations of the amide I band. The challenge of simulating protein spectra in aqueous medium was also addressed in a novel approach where optimisation of simulated spectra of a large set of protein structures to their corresponding experimental spectra was performed. Thereby, parameters describing the most important effects on the amide I band for proteins could be determined. The protein spectra predicted using the optimised parameters were found to be well in agreement with experiment.

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