Theoretical Sum Frequency Generation Spectra of Protein Amide with Surface-Specific Velocity-Velocity Correlation Functions

Kris Strunge, Fani Madzharova, Frank Jensen, Tobias Weidner*, Yuki Nagata*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Vibrational sum frequency generation (vSFG) spectroscopy is widely used to probe the protein structure at interfaces. Because protein vSFG spectra are complex, they can only provide detailed structural information if combined with computer simulations of protein molecular dynamics and spectra calculations. We show how vSFG spectra can be accurately modeled using a surface-specific velocity-velocity scheme based on ab initio normal modes. Our calculated vSFG spectra show excellent agreement with the experimental sum frequency spectrum of LT alpha 14 peptide and provide insight into the origin of the characteristic alpha-helical amide I peak. Analysis indicates that the peak shape can be explained largely by two effects: (1) the uncoupled response of amide groups located on opposite sides of the alpha-helix will have different orientations with respect to the interface and therefore different local environments affecting the local mode vibrations and (2) vibrational splitting from nearest neighbor coupling evaluated as inter-residue vibrational correlation. The conclusion is consistent with frequency mapping techniques with an empirically based ensemble of peptide structures, thus showing how time correlation approaches and frequency mapping techniques can give independent yet complementary molecular descriptions of protein vSFG. These models reveal the sensitive relationship between protein structure and their amide I response, allowing exploitation of the complicated molecular vibrations and their interference to derive the structures of proteins under native conditions at interfaces.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Pages (from-to)8571-8578
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022




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