Previous studies have suggested that the Ca2+-saturated E140Q mutant of the C-terminal domain of calmodulin exhibits equilibrium exchange between 'open' and 'closed' conformations similar to those of the Ca2+-free and Ca2+-saturated states of wild-type calmodulin. The backbone dynamics of15N spin relaxation experiments at three this mutant were studied using different temperatures. Measurements at each temperature of the15N rate constants for longitudinal and transverse auto-relaxation, longitudinal and transverse cross-correlation relaxation, and the1H-15N cross-relaxation afforded unequivocal identification of conformational exchange processes on microsecond to millisecond time-scales, and characterization of fast fluctuations on picosecond to nanosecond time-scales using model-free approaches. The results show that essentially all residues of the protein are involved in conformational exchange. Generalized order parameters of the fast internal motions indicate that the conformational substates are well folded, and exclude the possibility that the exchange involves a significant population of unfolded or disordered species. The temperature dependence of the order parameters offers qualitative estimates of the contribution to the heat capacity from fast fluctuations of the protein backbone, revealing significant variation between the well-ordered secondary structure elements and the more flexible regions. The temperature dependence of the conformational exchange contributions to the transverse auto-relaxation rate constants directly demonstrates that the microscopic exchange rate constants are greater than 2.7 x 103s-1at 291 K. The conformational exchange contributions correlate with the chemical shift differences between the Ca2+-free and Ca2+-saturated states of the wild-type protein, thereby substantiating that the conformational substates are similar to the open and closed states of wild-type calmodulin. Taking the wild-type chemical shifts to represent the conformational substates of the mutant and populations estimated previously, the microscopic exchange rate constants could be estimated as 2 x 104to 3 x 104s-1at 291 K for a subset of residues. The temperature dependence of the exchange allows the characterization of apparent energy barriers of the conformational transition, with results suggesting a complex process that does not correspond to a single global transition between substates.
- Conformational exchange
- Cross-correlation relaxation rates
- Energy barriers
- NMR spin relaxation
- Order parameters