Determination of Conformational Equilibria in Proteins Using Residual Dipolar Couplings
In order to carry out their functions, proteins often undergo significant conformational fluctuations that enable them to interact with their partners. The accurate characterization of these motions is key in order to understand the mechanisms by which macromolecular recognition events take place. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy offers a variety of powerful methods to achieve this result. We discuss a method of using residual dipolar couplings as replica-averaged restraints in molecular dynamics simulations to determine large amplitude motions of proteins, including those involved in the conformational equilibria that are established through interconversions between different states. By applying this method to ribonuclease A, we show that it enables one to characterize the ample fluctuations in interdomain orientations expected to play an important functional role.