The nuclear spin relaxation induced by a freely diffusing paramagnetic center provides a direct measure of intermolecular accessibility. A number of factors are involved in a quantitative interpretation of relaxation data including excluded volume effects, solvation differences, and the details of the electron spin relaxation in the paramagnetic center. In the case where the electron relaxation time is short compared with correlation times describing the electron-nuclear coupling, the nuclear spin relaxation rates may be related to the effective local concentration of the paramagnetic center at different locations about the solute of interest. The local concentrations may in turn be related to differences in the local free energies of interaction between the diffusing paramagnet and the cosolute. We demonstrate this approach for the case of ribonuclease A and deduce surface free energy differences for a large number of protein proton sites. We find that the oxygen accessibility is poorly represented by hard-sphere models such as computed solvent or steric accessibility. There is a distribution of local intermolecular interactions with a width of the order of RT that dominates the report of the intermolecular exploration of the protein by this simple solute.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry