Cysteine-ethylation of tissue-extracted membrane proteins as a tool to detect conformational states by solid-state NMR spectroscopy

Daniel K. Weber, Taysir Bader, Erik K. Larsen, Songlin Wang, Tata Gopinath, Mark Distefano, Gianluigi Veglia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Solid-state NMR (ssNMR) is an ideal tool to study structure and dynamics of membrane proteins in their native lipid environment. In principle, ssNMR has no size limitations. However, this feature is rarely exploited as large membrane proteins display severe resonance overlap. In addition, dismal yields from recombinant bacterial expression systems limit severely spectroscopic characterization of membrane proteins. For very large mammalian membrane proteins, extraction from the original organism remains the most viable approach. In this case, NMR-observable nuclei must be introduced post-translationally, but the approaches developed so far are rather scarce. Here, we detail the synthesis and engineering of a reactive 13C-ethylmethanethiosulfonate (13C-EMTS) reagent for the post-translational alkylation of cysteine sidechains of a 110 kDa sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2 +-ATPase (SERCA) extracted from rabbit skeletal muscle tissue. When reconstituted into liposomes, it is possible to resolve the resonances of the engineered ethyl groups by magic-angle spinning (MAS) 2D [13C,13C]-DARR experiments. Notably, the ethyl-group modification does not perturb the function of SERCA, yielding well-resolved 13C-13C fingerprints that are used to image its structural states in the catalytic cycle and filtering out overwhelming naturally-abundant 13C nuclei signals arising from the enzyme and lipids. We anticipate that this approach will be used together with 19F NMR to monitor conformational transitions of enzymes and proteins that are difficult to express recombinantly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChemical and Synthetic Biology Approaches To Understand Cellular Functions - Part A
EditorsArun K. Shukla
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780128181171
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameMethods in enzymology
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
ISSN (Print)0076-6879

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Health (GM 64742 and HL 144130).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.


  • Conformational states
  • Cysteine ethylation
  • Isotopic labeling
  • Mammalian proteins
  • Phospholamban
  • Sarcolipin
  • Solid-state NMR


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