DENSITY FUNCTIONAL CALCULATIONS OF BACKBONE 15N CHEMICAL SHIELDINGS IN PEPTIDES AND PROTEINS
Kosov, Daniel S
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In this dissertation, we describe computational and theoretical study of backbone 15N chemical shieldings in peptides and proteins. Comprehensive density functional calculations have been performed on systems of different complexity, ranging from model dipeptides to real proteins and protein complexes. We begin with examining the effects of solvation, hydrogen bonding, backbone conformation, and the side chain identity on 15N chemical shielding in proteins by density functional calculations. N-methylacetamide (NMA) and N-formyl-alanyl-X (with X being one of the 19 naturally occurring amino acids excluding proline) were used as model systems for this purpose. The conducting polarizable continuum model was employed to include the effect of solvent in the calculations. We show that the augmentation of the polarizable continuum model with the explicit water molecules in the first solvation shell has a significant influence on isotropic 15N chemical shift but not as much on the chemical shift anisotropy. The difference in the isotropic chemical shift between the standard &beta-sheet and standard &alpha-helical conformations ranges from 0.8 ppm to 6.2 ppm depending on the residue type, with the mean of 2.7 ppm. This is in good agreement with the experimental chemical shifts averaged over a database of 36 proteins containing >6100 amino acid residues. The orientation of the 15N chemical shielding tensor as well as its anisotropy and asymmetry are also in the range of values experimentally observed for peptides and proteins. Having applied density functional calculation successfully to model peptides, we develop a computationally efficient methodology to include most of the important effects in the calculation of chemical shieldings of backbone 15N in a protein. We present the application to selected &alpha-helical and &beta-sheet residues of protein G. The role of long-range intra-protein electrostatic interactions by comparing models with different complexity in vacuum and in charge field is analyzed. We show that the dipole moment of the &alpha-helix can cause significant deshielding of 15N; therefore, it needs to be considered when calculating 15N chemical shielding. We emphasize the importance of including interactions with the side chains that are close in space when the charged form for ionizable side chains is adopted in the calculation. We also illustrate how the ionization state of these side chains can affect the chemical shielding tensor elements. For &alpha-helical residues, chemical shielding calculations using a 8-residue fragment model in vacuum and adopting the charged form of ionizable side chains yield a generally good agreement with experimental data. We also performed computational modeling of the chemical shift perturbations occurring upon protein-protein or protein-ligand binding. We show that the chemical shift perturbations in ubiquitin upon dimer formation can be explained qualitatively through computation. This dissertation hence demonstrates that quantum chemical calculations can be successfully used to obtain a fundamental understanding of the relationship between chemical shielding and the surrounding protein environment for the elusive case of 15N and therefore enhance the role of 15N chemical shift measurements in the analysis of protein structure and dynamics.