TEMPOL, the soluble spin-label 4-hydroxy-2,2,6,6-tetramethyl-piperidine-1-oxyl, has been used to determine the surface characteristics of tendamistat, a small protein with a well-characterised structure both in solution and in the crystal. A good correlation has been found between predicted regions of exposed protein surface and the intensity attenuations induced by the probe on 2D NMR TOCSY cross peaks of tendamistat in the paramagnetic water solution. All the high paramagnetic effects have been interpreted in terms of more efficient competition of TEMPOL with water molecules at some surface positions. The active site of tendamistat coincides with the largest surface patch accessible to the probe. A strong hydration of protein N and C termini can also be suggested by this structural approach, as these locations exhibit reduced paramagnetic pertubations. Provided that the solution structure is known, the use of this paramagnetic probe seems to be well suited to delineate the dynamic behaviour of the protein surface and, more generally, to gain relevant information about the molecular presentation processes.
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