Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is well-established in assessing the binding affinity between low molecular weight ligands and proteins. However, conventional NMR-based binding assays are often limited to small proteins of high purity and may require elaborate isotopic labeling of one of the potential binding partners. As protein–polyphenol complexation is assumed to be a key event in polyphenol-mediated oral astringency, here we introduce a label-free, ligand-focused 1H NMR titration assay to estimate binding affinities and characterize soluble complex formation between proteins and low molecular weight polyphenols. The method makes use of the effects of NMR line broadening due to protein–ligand interactions and quantitation of the non-bound ligand at varying protein concentrations by quantitative 1H NMR spectroscopy (qHNMR) using electronic reference to access in vivo concentration (ERETIC 2). This technique is applied to assess the interaction kinetics of selected astringent tasting polyphenols and purified mucin, a major lubricating glycoprotein of human saliva, as well as human whole saliva. The protein affinity values (BC50) obtained are subsequently correlated with the intrinsic mouth-puckering, astringent oral sensation imparted by these compounds. The quantitative NMR method is further exploited to study the effect of carboxymethyl cellulose, a candidate “anti-astringent” protein binding antagonist, on the polyphenol–protein interaction. Consequently, the NMR approach presented here proves to be a versatile tool to study the interactions between proteins and low-affinity ligands in solution and may find promising applications in the discovery of bioactives.
Delius, J., Frank, O., & Hofmann, T. (2017). Label-free quantitative 1H NMR spectroscopy to study low-affinity ligand–protein interactions in solution: A contribution to the mechanism of polyphenol-mediated astringency. PLoS ONE, 12(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184487