Combining Site-Directed Spin Labeling in Vivo and In-Cell EPR Distance Determination

Structural studies on proteins directly in their native environment are required for a comprehensive understanding of their function. Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy and in particular double electron-electron resonance (DEER) distance determination are suited to investigate spin-labeled proteins directly in the cell. The combination of intracellular bioorthogonal labeling with in-cell DEER measurements does not require additional purification or delivery steps of spin-labeled protein to the cells. In this study, we express eGFP in E.coli and use copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) for the site-directed spin labeling of the protein in vivo, followed by in-cell EPR distance determination. Inter-spin distance measurements of spin-labeled eGFP agree with in vitro measurements and calculations based on the rotamer library of the spin label.