Topology and immersion depth of an integral membrane protein by paramagnetic rates from dissolved oxygen

M. Sameer Al-Abdul-Wahid, Raffaello Verardi, Gianluigi Veglia, R. Scott Prosser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In studies of membrane proteins, knowledge of protein topology can provide useful insight into both structure and function. In this work, we present a solution NMR method for the measurement the tilt angle and average immersion depth of alpha helices in membrane proteins, from analysis of the paramagnetic relaxation rate enhancements arising from dissolved oxygen. No modification to the micelle or protein is necessary, and the topology of both transmembrane and amphipathic helices are readily determined. We apply this method to the measure the topology of a monomeric mutant of phospholamban (AFA-PLN), a 52-residue membrane protein containing both an amphipathic and a transmembrane alpha helix. In dodecylphosphocholine micelles, the amphipathic helix of AFA-PLN was found to have a tilt angle of 87° ± 1° and an average immersion depth of 13.2 Å. The transmembrane helix was found to have an average immersion depth of 5.4 Å, indicating residues 41 and 42 are closest to the micelle centre. The resolution of paramagnetic relaxation rate enhancements from dissolved oxygen compares favourably to those from Ni (II), a hydrophilic paramagnetic species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-183
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of biomolecular NMR
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments RSP acknowledges NSERC, and the Ontario government for financial support through the NSERC discovery and Provincial Research Excellence Award (PREA) programs. This work was in part supported by the National Institute of Health (GM64742) to GV.


  • Membrane protein immersion depth
  • Membrane protein topology
  • Paramagnetic relaxation rate enhancements
  • Solution state NMR of membrane proteins


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