Specific isotopic labelling and reverse labelling for protein NMR spectroscopy: using metabolic precursors in sample preparation

Benjamin Rowlinson, Elodie Crublet, Rime Kerfah, Michael J Plevin

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The study of protein structure, dynamics and function by NMR spectroscopy commonly requires samples that have been enriched ('labelled') with the stable isotopes 13C and/or 15N. The standard approach is to uniformly label a protein with one or both of these nuclei such that all C and/or N sites are in principle 'NMR-visible'. NMR spectra of uniformly labelled proteins can be highly complicated and suffer from signal overlap. Moreover, as molecular size increases the linewidths of NMR signals broaden, which decreases sensitivity and causes further spectral congestion. Both effects can limit the type and quality of information available from NMR data. Problems associated with signal overlap and signal broadening can often be alleviated though the use of alternative, non-uniform isotopic labelling patterns. Specific isotopic labelling 'turns on' signals at selected sites while the rest of the protein is NMR-invisible. Conversely, specific isotopic unlabelling (also called 'reverse' labelling) 'turns off' selected signals while the rest of the protein remains NMR-visible. Both approaches can simplify NMR spectra, improve sensitivity, facilitate resonance assignment and permit a range of different NMR strategies when combined with other labelling tools and NMR experiments. Here, we review methods for producing proteins with enrichment of stable NMR-visible isotopes, with particular focus on residue-specific labelling and reverse labelling using Escherichia coli expression systems. We also explore how these approaches can aid NMR studies of proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberBST20210586
Number of pages13
JournalBiochemical Society transactions
Early online date16 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Nov 2022

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