Multiple alignment tensors from a denatured protein

Erika B. Gebel, Ke Ruan, Joel R. Tolman, David Shortle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The structural content of the denatured state has yet to be fully characterized. In recent years, large residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) from denatured proteins have been observed under alignment conditions produced by bicelles and strained polyacrylamide gels. In this report, we describe efforts to extend our picture of the residual structure in denatured nuclease by measuring RDCs with multiple alignment tensors. Backbone amide 15N-1H RDCs were collected from 4 M urea for a total of eight RDC data sets. The RDCs were analyzed by singular value decomposition (SVD) to determine the number of independent alignment tensors present in the data. On the basis of the resultant singular values and propagated error estimates, it is clear that there are at least three independent alignment tensors. These three independent RDC datasets can be reconstituted as orthogonal linear combinations, (OLC)-RDC datasets, of the eight actually recorded. The first, second, and third OLC-RDC datasets are highly robust to the removal of any single experimental RDC dataset, establishing the presence of three independent alignment tensors, sampled well above the level of experimental uncertainty. The observation that the RDC data span three or more dimensions of the five-dimensional parameter space demonstrates that the ensemble average structure of denatured nuclease must be asymmetric with respect to these three orthogonal principal axes, which is not inconsistent with earlier work demonstrating that it has a nativelike topology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9310-9311
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 26 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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