For most biophysical techniques, characterization of protein–protein interactions is challenging; this is especially true with methods that rely on a physical phenomenon that is common to both of the interacting proteins. Thus, for example, in IR spectroscopy, the carbonyl vibration (1600–1700 cm−1) associated with the amide bonds from both of the interacting proteins will overlap extensively, making the interpretation of spectral changes very complicated. Isotope-edited infrared spectroscopy, where one of the interacting proteins is uniformly labelled with 13C or 13C,15N has been introduced as a solution to this problem, enabling the study of protein–protein interactions using IR spectroscopy. The large shift of the amide I band (approx. 45 cm−1 towards lower frequency) upon 13C labelling of one of the proteins reveals the amide I band of the unlabelled protein, enabling it to be used as a probe for monitoring conformational changes. With site-specific isotopic labelling, structural resolution at the level of individual amino acid residues can be achieved. Furthermore, the ability to record IR spectra of proteins in diverse environments means that isotope-edited IR spectroscopy can be used to structurally characterize difficult systems such as protein–protein complexes bound to membranes or large insoluble peptide/protein aggregates. In the present article, examples of application of isotope-edited IR spectroscopy for studying protein–protein interactions are provided.

You do not currently have access to this content.