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Water-coupled low-frequency modes of myoglobin and lysozyme observed by inelastic neutron scattering

By M. Diehl, W. Doster, W. Petry and H. Schober


Conformational changes of proteins often involve the relative motion of rigid structural domains. Normal mode analysis and molecular dynamics simulations of small globular proteins predict delocalized vibrations with frequencies below 20 cm(-1), which may be overdamped in solution due to solvent friction. In search of these modes, we have studied deuterium-exchanged myoglobin and lysozyme using inelastic neutron scattering in the low-frequency range at full and low hydration to modify the degree of damping. At room temperature, the hydrated samples exhibit a more pronounced quasielastic spectrum due to diffusive motions than the dehydrated samples. The analysis of the corresponding lineshapes suggests that water modifies mainly the amplitude, but not the characteristic time of fast protein motions. At low temperatures, in contrast, the dehydrated samples exhibit larger motional amplitudes than the hydrated ones. The excess scattering, culminating at 16 cm(-1), is suggested to reflect water-coupled librations of polar side chains that are depressed in the hydrated system by strong intermolecular hydrogen bonding. Both myoglobin and lysozyme exhibit ultra-low-frequency modes below 10 cm(-1) in the dry state, possibly related to the breathing modes predicted by harmonic analysis

Publisher: The Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Year: 1997
DOI identifier: 10.1016/S0006-3495(97)78301-2
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