What can optical spectroscopy contribute to understanding protein dynamics ?

Abstract : The short answer to the title question is: "a lot". It was transient absorption spectroscopy on geminate recombination in myoglobin that led Hans Frauenfelder to constructing his picture of protein's hierarchical energy landscape [1]. And even before that (in 1973), Joseph Lakowicz and Gregorio Weber at UIUC used quenching of tryptophan fluorescence by oxygen diffusing to solvent-inaccessible protein regions to conclude that "proteins, in general, undergo rapid structural fluctuations on the nanosecond time scale " [2]. The not-so-short answer is that the present text is written at a point where, after a decade of applying transient absorption spectroscopy to understand light induced electron transfer in a variety of enzymes, I am about to change the angle of attack and ask how these techniques and enzymes could be of help to solve some problems that are addressed in the IBS environment, namely protein dynamics, both structural and functional. It is for this reason that the answer will have to be delayed to the third and final part of this opus, "future", that deals with the perspectives. Meanwhile, the first part, "past", will be dedicated to showing on the example of the "paradigm" enzyme -DNA photolyase (the yellow egg hereunder)-, what transient absorption spectroscopy is capable of and the middle part, "present" dresses a short review into various experimental approaches currently used to obtain insight into protein dynamics. In the final section, I will delineate ways how optical spectroscopy could interact with projects existing or emerging in the protein dynamics community at IBS and thus contribute elements of an answer to the title question.
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Biological Physics [physics.bio-ph]. Université Joseph-Fourier - Grenoble I, 2010
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Martin Byrdin. What can optical spectroscopy contribute to understanding protein dynamics ?. Biological Physics [physics.bio-ph]. Université Joseph-Fourier - Grenoble I, 2010. 〈tel-00585252〉

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