Use of paramagnetic systems to speed-up NMR data acquisition and for structural and dynamic studies

Vojč Kocman, Giacomo M. Di Mauro, Gianluigi Veglia, Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

5 Scopus citations


NMR spectroscopy is a powerful experimental technique to study biological systems at the atomic resolution. However, its intrinsic low sensitivity results in long acquisition times that in extreme cases lasts for days (or even weeks) often exceeding the lifetime of the sample under investigation. Different paramagnetic agents have been used in an effort to decrease the spin-lattice (T1) relaxation times of the studied nuclei, which are the main cause for long acquisition times necessary for signal averaging to enhance the signal-to-noise ratio of NMR spectra. Consequently, most of the experimental time is “wasted” in waiting for the magnetization to recover between successive scans. In this review, we discuss how to set up an optimal paramagnetic relaxation enhancement (PRE) system to effectively reduce the T1 relaxation times avoiding significant broadening of NMR signals. Additionally, we describe how PRE-agents can be used to provide structural and dynamic information and can even be used to follow the intermediates of chemical reactions and to speed-up data acquisition. We also describe the unique challenges and benefits associated with the application of PRE to solid-state NMR spectroscopy, explaining how the use of PREs is more complex for membrane mimetic systems as PREs can also be exploited to change the alignment of oriented membrane systems. Functionalization of membrane mimetics, such as bicelles, can provide a controlled region of paramagnetic effect that has the potential, together with the desired alignment, to provide crucial biologically relevant structural information. And finally, we discuss how paramagnetic metals can be utilized to further increase the dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) effects and how to preserve the enhancements when dissolution DNP is implemented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-46
Number of pages11
JournalSolid State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
StatePublished - Oct 2019

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