Yamamoto, K., et al., Cellular solid-state NMR investigation of a membrane protein using dynamic nuclear polarization. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Biomembranes, 2015. 1848(1, Part B): p. 342-349.
While an increasing number of structural biology studies successfully demonstrate the power of high-resolution structures and dynamics of membrane proteins in fully understanding their function, there is considerable interest in developing NMR approaches to obtain such information in a cellular setting. As long as the proteins inside the living cell tumble rapidly in the NMR timescale, recently developed in-cell solution NMR approaches can provide 3D structural information. However, there are numerous challenges to study membrane proteins inside a cell. Research in our laboratory is focused on developing a combination of solid-state NMR and biological approaches to overcome these challenges in order to obtain high-resolution structural insights into electron transfer processes mediated by membrane-bound proteins like mammalian cytochrome-b5, cytochrome-P450 and cytochrome-P450-reductase. In this study, we demonstrate the feasibility of using dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) magic angle spinning (MAS) NMR spectroscopy for in-cell studies on a membrane-anchored protein. Our experimental results obtained from 13C-labeled membrane-anchored cytochrome-b5 in native Escherichia coli cells show a ~ 16-fold DNP signal enhancement. Further, results obtained from a 2D 13C/13C chemical shift correlation MAS experiment demonstrate the feasibility of suppressing the background signals from other cellular contents for high-resolution structural studies on membrane proteins. We believe that this study would pave new avenues for high-resolution structural studies on a variety of membrane-associated proteins and their complexes in the cellular context to fully understand their functional roles in physiological processes. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: NMR Spectroscopy for Atomistic Views of Biomembranes and Cell Surfaces. Guest Editors: Lynette Cegelski and David P. Weliky.