Sum frequency generation and solid-state NMR study of the structure, orientation, and dynamics of polystyrene-adsorbed peptides

Tobias Weidner, Nicholas F. Breen, Kun Li, Gary P. Drobny, David G. Castner

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The power of combining sum frequency generation (SFG) vibrational spectroscopy and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (ssNMR) spectroscopy to quantify, with site specificity and atomic resolution, the orientation and dynamics of side chains in synthetic model peptides adsorbed onto polystyrene (PS) surfaces is demonstrated in this study. Although isotopic labeling has long been used in ssNMR studies to site-specifically probe the structure and dynamics of biomolecules, the potential of SFG to probe side chain orientation in isotopically labeled surface-adsorbed peptides and proteins remains largely unexplored. The 14 amino acid leucine-lysine peptide studied in this work is known to form an α-helical secondary structure at liquid-solid interfaces. Selective, individual deuteration of the isopropyl group in each leucine residue was used to probe the orientation and dynamics of each individual leucine side chain of LKα14 adsorbed onto PS. The selective isotopic labeling methods allowed SFG analysis to determine the orientations of individual side chains in adsorbed peptides. Side chain dynamics were obtained by fitting the deuterium ssNMR line shape to specific motional models. Through the combined use of SFG and ssNMR, the dynamic trends observed for individual side chains by ssNMR have been correlated with side chain orientation relative to the PS surface as determined by SFG. This combination provides a more complete and quantitative picture of the structure, orientation, and dynamics of these surface-adsorbed peptides than could be obtained if either technique were used separately.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Pages (from-to)13288-13293
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Isotope labels
  • Protein
  • Solid-liquid interface
  • Surface


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