Theory of Nonrigid Rotational Motion Applied to NMR Relaxation in RNA
Solution NMR spectroscopy can elucidate many features of the structure and dynamics of macromolecules, yet relaxation measurements, the most common source of experimental information on dynamics, can sample only certain ranges of dynamic rates. A complete characterization of motion of a macromolecule thus requires the introduction of complementary experimental approaches. Solid-state NMR spectroscopy successfully probes the time scale of nanoseconds to microseconds, a dynamic window where solution NMR results have been deficient, and probes conditions where the averaging effects of rotational diffusion of the molecule are absent. Combining the results of the two distinct techniques within a single framework provides greater insight into dynamics, but this task requires the common interpretation of results recorded under very different experimental conditions. Herein, we provide a unified description of dynamics that is robust to the presence of large-scale conformational exchange, where the diffusion tensor of the molecule varies on a time scale comparable to rotational diffusion in solution. We apply this methodology to the HIV-1 TAR RNA molecule, where conformational rearrangements are both substantial and functionally important. The formalism described herein is of greater generality than earlier combined solid-state/solution NMR interpretations, if detailed molecular structures are available, and can offer a more complete description of RNA dynamics than either solution or solid-state NMR spectroscopy alone.