Pure quadrupole resonance is a potentially useful spectroscopic approach to study the coordination of quadrupolar nuclei in biological systems. We used a field-cycling NMR method to observe boron pure quadrupole resonance of two peptide boronic acid inhibitors bound to α-lytic protease. The method is similar to our earlier field-cycling experiment [Ivanov, D., and Redfield, A. R. (1998) Z Naturforsch. A 53, 269-272] but uses a simple Hartmann-Hahn transfer from proton to 11B before field cycle and direct 11B observe after it. Pure quadrupole resonance is sensitive to the boron coordination geometry. For example, trigonal boron in neutral phenylboronic acid, which was used as a model compound, resonates at 1450 kHz, while the resonance of the tetrahedral phenylboronic acid anion appears at approximately 600 kHz. In the complex of the MeOSuc-Ala-Ala-Pro-boroVal inhibitor with the enzyme the quadrupole resonance signal was observed at 600-650 kHz, which indicates tetrahedral boron coordination in the active site. The quadrupole frequency of the MeOSuc-Ala-Ala-Pro-boroPhe enzyme-inhibitor complex, in which a boron-histidine bond is known to be formed, was found to be the same within experimental error as in the MeOSuc-Ala-Ala-Pro-boroVal enzyme-inhibitor adduct, suggesting that the boron coordination geometry in the enzyme-MeOSuc-Ala-Ala-Pro-boroPhe adduct is also close to tetrahedral.
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