Salnikov, E.S., et al., Dynamic Nuclear Polarization/Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy of Membrane Polypeptides: Free-Radical Optimization for Matrix-Free Lipid Bilayer Samples. ChemPhysChem, 2017. 18(15): p. 2103-2113.
Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) boosts the sensitivity of NMR spectroscopy by orders of magnitude and makes investigations previously out of scope possible. For magic-angle-spinning (MAS) solid-state NMR spectroscopy studies, the samples are typically mixed with biradicals dissolved in a glass-forming solvent and are investigated at cryotemperatures. Herein, we present new biradical polarizing agents developed for matrix-free samples such as supported lipid bilayers, which are systems widely used for the investigation of membrane polypeptides of high biomedical importance. A series of 11 biradicals with different structures, geometries, and physicochemical properties were comprehensively tested for DNP performance in lipid bilayers, some of them developed specifically for DNP investigations of membranes. The membrane-anchored biradicals PyPol-C16, AMUPOL-cholesterol, and bTurea-C16 were found to exhibit improved g-tensor alignment, inter-radical distance, and dispersion. Consequently, these biradicals show the highest signal enhancement factors so far obtained for matrix-free membranes or other matrix-free samples and may potentially shorten NMR acquisition times by three orders of magnitude. Furthermore, the optimal biradical-to-lipid ratio, sample deuteration, and membrane lipid composition were determined under static and MAS conditions. To rationalize biradical performance better, DNP enhancement was measured by using the 13 C and 15 N signals of lipids and a peptide as a function of the biradical concentration, DNP build-up time, resonance line width, quenching effect, microwave power, and MAS frequency.