Atomistic Models from Orientation and Distance Constraints Using EPR of a Bifunctional Spin Label

Benjamin P. Binder, Andrew R. Thompson, David D. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We have used high-resolution orientation and distance measurements derived from electron paramagnetic resonance of a bifunctional spin label (BSL) to build and refine atomistic models of protein structure. We demonstrate this approach by investigating the effects of nucleotide binding on the structure of myosin's catalytic domain while myosin is in complex with actin. Constraints for orientation of individual helices were obtained in a previous study from continuous-wave electron paramagnetic resonance of myosin labeled at specific sites with BSLs in oriented muscle fibers. In this study, new distance constraints were derived from double electron-electron resonance on myosin constructs labeled with a BSL specifically at two sites. Using these complementary constraints together, we thoroughly characterize the BSL's rigid, highly stereoselective attachment to protein α-helices, which permits accurate measurements of orientation and distance. We also leverage these measurements to derive a novel, to our knowledge, structural model for myosin-II in complex with actin and MgADP and compare our model to other recent actomyosin structures. The described approach is applicable to any orientable complex (e.g., membranes or filaments) in which site-specific di-Cys mutation is feasible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-330
Number of pages12
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 23 2019


PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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