The distance dependence of electron-nuclear dipole-dipole coupling was tested using a series of poly-L-proline based peptides of different length. The poly-proline based peptides were synthesized with a nitroxide spin label on the N-terminus and a tryptophan on the C-terminus, and paramagnetic enhancements of nuclear spin-lattice relaxation rates were measured for the aromatic protons on the tryptophan as a function of the number of proline spacers in the sequence. As expected, paramagnetic enhancements decrease with distance, but the distances deduced from the NMR relaxation rates were shorter than expected for every peptide studied compared to a rigid linear poly-L-proline type II helix structure. Calculations of cross-relaxation rates indicate that this difference is not the result of spin-diffusion or the creation of a spin-temperature gradient in the proton spins caused by the nitroxide. Molecular dynamics simulations were used to estimate dynamically averaged value of (r-3)2. These weighted average distances were close to the experimentally determined distances, and suggest that molecular motion may account for differences between the rigid linear models and the distances implied by the NMR relaxation data. A poly-L-prolone peptide synthesized with a central glycine hinge showed dramatic relaxation rate enhancements compared to the peptide of the same length lacking the hinge. Molecular dynamics simulations for the hinged peptide support the notion that the NMR data is a representation of the weighted average distance, which in this case is much shorter than that expected for an extended conformation. These results demonstrate that intermoment distances based on NMR relaxation rates provide a sensitive indicator of intramolecular motions.
Jacob, J., Baker, B., Bryant, R. G., & Cafiso, D. S. (1999). Distance estimates from paramagnetic enhancements of nuclear relaxation in linear and flexible model peptides. Biophysical Journal, 77(2), 1086–1092. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(99)76958-4