The dynamic duo: Combining NMR and small angle scattering in structural biology

Protein Science, 2014, DOI: 10.1002/pro.2467, Volume 23, Issue 6, pages 669–682, published on 17.04.2014
Protein Science, online article
Structural biology provides essential information for elucidating molecular mechanisms that underlie biological function. Advances in hardware, sample preparation, experimental methods, and computational approaches now enable structural analysis of protein complexes with increasing complexity that more closely represent biologically entities in the cellular environment. Integrated multidisciplinary approaches are required to overcome limitations of individual methods and take advantage of complementary aspects provided by different structural biology techniques. Although X-ray crystallography remains the method of choice for structural analysis of large complexes, crystallization of flexible systems is often difficult and does typically not provide insights into conformational dynamics present in solution. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) is well-suited to study dynamics at picosecond to second time scales, and to map binding interfaces even of large systems at residue resolution but suffers from poor sensitivity with increasing molecular weight. Small angle scattering (SAS) methods provide low resolution information in solution and can characterize dynamics and conformational equilibria complementary to crystallography and NMR. The combination of NMR, crystallography, and SAS is, thus, very useful for analysis of the structure and conformational dynamics of (large) protein complexes in solution. In high molecular weight systems, where NMR data are often sparse, SAS provides additional structural information and can differentiate between NMR-derived models. Scattering data can also validate the solution conformation of a crystal structure and indicate the presence of conformational equilibria. Here, we review current state-of-the-art approaches for combining NMR, crystallography, and SAS data to characterize protein complexes in solution.  

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