Residual Dipolar Coupling for Conformational and Dynamic Studies

  • Madeleine Strickland
  • Nico TjandraEmail author
Reference work entry


Residual dipolar coupling (RDC) is a nuclear magnetic resonance parameter that contains rich information about the structure and dynamics of biomolecules. RDCs are particularly advantageous for the investigation of biomolecular dynamics since they are sensitive to a broader range of timescales than traditional NMR parameters. The observation of RDCs in liquid requires partial alignment of the solute to the static magnetic field, otherwise dipolar coupling would average to zero as a result of isotropic reorientation of the molecule. Partial alignment can be achieved by taking advantage of the physical or chemical properties of the solute or the solvent molecule. The degree and orientation of alignment is described by the alignment tensor, which must be unique to provide new information about the biomolecule. This is important, because there is an inherent structural degeneracy of RDCs, whether being used to study conformation or dynamics. This can be lifted by the inclusion of multiple RDC data sets with distinct alignment tensors. The recent development of rigid lanthanide-containing covalent tags offers a potential solution to structural degeneracy, since unique alignments can be obtained by exchange of the lanthanide or modification of the tag’s attachment site on the biomolecule. This review aims to concisely summarize the most recent developments in the collection, analysis, and validation of RDCs, as well as the potential impact of rigid, lanthanide-containing tags for use in the study of the structure and dynamics of biomolecules.


Residual dipolar couplings Pseudocontact shifts Paramagnetic relaxation enhancement Ln-DOTA J-coupling Alignment tensor Lanthanides Validation Structural degeneracy 


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Molecular BiophysicsNational Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteBethesdaUSA

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