Pulse-dipolar EPR is an appealing strategy for structural characterization of complex systems in solution that complements other biophysical techniques. Significantly, the emergence of genetically encoded self-assembling spin labels exploiting exogenously introduced double-histidine motifs in conjunction with CuII-chelates offers high precision distance determination in systems non-permissive to thiol-directed spin labelling. However, the non-covalency of this interaction exposes potential vulnerabilities to competition from adventitious divalent metal ions, and pH sensitivity. Herein, a combination of room-temperature isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and cryogenic relaxation-induced dipolar modulation enhancement (RIDME) measurements are applied to the model protein Streptococcus sp. group G. protein G, B1 domain (GB1). Results demonstrate double-histidine motif spin labelling using CuII-nitrilotriacetic acid (CuII-NTA) is robust against the competitor ligand ZnII-NTA at >1000-fold molar excess, and high nM binding affinity is surprisingly retained under acidic and basic conditions even though room temperature affinity shows a stronger pH dependence. This indicates the strategy is well-suited for diverse biological applications, particularly metalloproteins with divalent metal ion cofactors.
Wort competition chemRxiv SI