Studying enzyme mechanism by 13C nuclear magnetic resonance

Science  31 Aug 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4665, pp. 883-889
DOI: 10.1126/science.6433481


High-resolution carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra of enzyme-inhibitor and enzyme-substrate complexes provide detailed structural and stereochemical information on the mechanism of enzyme action. The proteases trypsin and papain are shown to form tetrahedrally coordinated complexes and acyl derivatives with a variety of compounds artificially enriched at the site or sites of interest. These results are compared with the structural information derived from x-ray diffraction. Detailed NMR studies have provided a clearer picture of the ionization state of the residues participating in enzyme-catalyzed processes than other more classical techniques. The dynamics of enzymic catalysis can be observed at sub-zero temperatures by a combination of cryoenzymology and carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy. With these powerful techniques, transient, covalently bound intermediates in enzyme-catalyzed reactions can be detected and their structures rigorously assigned.