Characterizing ensembles of intrinsically disordered proteins is experimentally challenging because of the ill-conditioned nature of ensemble determination with limited data and the intrinsic fast dynamics of the conformational ensemble. Amide I two-dimensional infrared (2D IR) spectroscopy has picosecond time resolution to freeze structural ensembles as needed for probing disordered-protein ensembles and conformational dynamics. Also, developments in amide I computational spectroscopy now allow a quantitative and direct prediction of amide I spectra based on conformational distributions drawn from molecular dynamics simulations, providing a route to ensemble refinement against experimental spectra. We performed a Bayesian ensemble refinement method on Ala–Ala–Ala against isotope-edited Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and 2D IR spectroscopy and tested potential factors affecting the quality of ensemble refinements. We found that isotope-edited 2D IR spectroscopy provides a stringent constraint on Ala–Ala–Ala conformations and returns consistent conformational ensembles with the dominant ppII conformer across varying prior distributions from many molecular dynamics force fields and water models. The dominant factor influencing ensemble refinements is the systematic frequency uncertainty from spectroscopic maps. However, the uncertainty of conformer populations can be significantly reduced by incorporating 2D IR spectra in addition to traditional Fourier-transform infrared spectra. Bayesian ensemble refinement against isotope-edited 2D IR spectroscopy thus provides a route to probe equilibrium-complex protein ensembles and potentially nonequilibrium conformational dynamics.
Feng, C. J., Dhayalan, B., & Tokmakoff, A. (2018). Refinement of Peptide Conformational Ensembles by 2D IR Spectroscopy: Application to Ala‒Ala‒Ala. Biophysical Journal, 114(12), 2820–2832. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2018.05.003