Scientific article

Changes in the Microenvironment of Nitroxide Radicals around the Glass Transition Temperature

Published inThe journal of physical chemistry. B, vol. 119, no. 43, p. 13797-13806
Publication date2015-08-20
First online date2015-08-20

For structural characterization by pulsed EPR methods, spin-labeled macromolecules are routinely studied at cryogenic temperatures. The equilibration of the conformational ensemble during shock-freezing occurs to a good approximation at the glass transition temperature (Tg). In this work, we used X-band power saturation continuous wave (cw) EPR to obtain information on the glass transition temperatures in the microenvironment of nitroxide radicals in solvents or bound to different sites in proteins. The temperature dependence of the saturation curve of nitroxide probes in pure glycerol or ortho-terphenyl showed detectable transitions at the respective Tg values, with the latter solvent characterized by a sharper change of the saturation properties, according to its higher fragility. In contrast, nitroxide probes in a glycerol/water mixture showed a discontinuity in the saturation properties close to the expected glass transition temperature, which made the determination of Tg complicated. Low-temperature W-band cw EPR and W-band ELDOR-detected NMR experiments demonstrated that the discontinuity is due to local rearrangements of H-bonds between water molecules and the nitroxide reporter group. The change in the network of H-bonds formed between the nitroxide and water molecules that occurs around Tg was found to be site-dependent in spin-labeled proteins. This effect can therefore be modulated by neighboring residues with different steric hindrances and/or charge distributions and possibly by the glycerol enrichment on protein surfaces. In conclusion, if the thermal history of the sample is carefully reproduced, the nitroxide probe is extremely sensitive in reporting site-specific changes in the H-bonding to water molecules close to Tg and local glass transition temperatures in spin-labeled macromolecules.

Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
BORDIGNON, Enrica et al. Changes in the Microenvironment of Nitroxide Radicals around the Glass Transition Temperature. In: The journal of physical chemistry. B, 2015, vol. 119, n° 43, p. 13797–13806. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.5b04104
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1520-5207

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