NMR scalar couplings across hydrogen bonds represent direct evidence for the partial covalent nature of hydrogen bonds and provide structural and dynamic information on hydrogen bonding. In this article, we report heteronuclear 15N-31P and 1H-31P scalar couplings across the intermolecular hydrogen bonds between protein histidine (His) imidazole and DNA phosphate groups. These hydrogen-bond scalar couplings were observed for the Egr-1 zinc-finger-DNA complex. Although His side-chain NH protons are typically undetectable in heteronuclear 1H-15N correlation spectra due to rapid hydrogen exchange, this complex exhibited two His side-chain NH signals around 1H 14.3 ppm and 15N 178 ppm at 35 °C. Through various heteronuclear multidimensional NMR experiments, these signals were assigned to two zinc-coordinating His side chains in contact with DNA phosphate groups. The data show that the Nδ1 atoms of these His side chains are protonated and exhibit the 1H-15N cross-peaks. Using heteronuclear 1H, 15N, and 31P NMR experiments, we observed the hydrogen-bond scalar couplings between the His 15Nδ1/1Hδ1 and DNA phosphate 31P nuclei. These results demonstrate the direct involvement of the zinc-coordinating His side chains in the recognition of DNA by the Cys2His2-class zinc fingers in solution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry