Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) was used to optimize the solid-phase peptide synthesis of a membrane-bound peptide labeled with TOAC (2,2,6,6-tetramethyl-piperidine-1-oxyl-4-amino-4-carboxylic acid). The incorporation of this paramagnetic amino acid results in a nitroxide spin label coupled rigidly to the α-carbon, providing direct detection of peptide backbone dynamics by EPR. We applied this approach to phospholamban, which regulates cardiac calcium transport. The synthesis of this amphipathic 52-amino-acid membrane peptide including TOAC is a challenge, especially in the addition of TOAC and the next several amino acids. Therefore, EPR of synthetic intermediates, reconstituted into lipid bilayers, was used to ensure complete coupling and 9-fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl (Fmoc) deprotection. The attachment of Fmoc-TOAC-OH leads to strong immobilization of the spin label, whereas Fmoc deprotection dramatically mobilizes it, producing an EPR spectral peak that is completely resolved from that observed before deprotection. Similarly, coupling of the next amino acid (Ser) restores the spin label to strong immobilization, giving a peak that is completely resolved from that of the preceding step. For several subsequent steps, the effect of coupling and deprotection is similar but less dramatic. Thus, the sensitivity and resolution of EPR provides a quantitative monitor of completion at each of these critical steps in peptide synthesis. Mass spectrometry, circular dichroism, and Edman degradation were used in concert with EPR to verify the chemistry and characterize the secondary structure. In conclusion, the application of conventional analytical methods in combination with EPR offers an improved approach to optimize the accurate synthesis of TOAC spin-labeled membrane peptides.
- Edman sequencing
- Membrane protein
- Solid-phase peptide synthesis