Pulsed electron-electron double resonance (PELDOR) distance measurements in detergent micelles

Bela E. Bode, Reza Dastvan, Thomas F. Prisner

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Pulsed electron-electron double resonance (PELDOR) spectroscopy is a powerful tool for measuring nanometer distances in spin-labeled systems. A common approach is doubly covalent spin-labeling of a macromolecule and measurement of the inter-spin distance, or to use singly-labeled components of a system that forms aggregates or oligomers. This situation has been described as a spin-cluster. The PELDOR signal, however, does not only contain the desired dipolar coupling between the spin-labels of the molecule or cluster under study. In samples of finite concentration the dipolar coupling between the spin-labels of the randomly distributed molecules or spin-clusters also contributes significantly. In homogeneous frozen solutions or lipid vesicle membranes this second contribution can be considered to be an exponential or stretched exponential decay, respectively. In this study, we show that this assumption is not valid in detergent micelles. Spin-labeled fatty acids that are randomly partitioned into different detergent micelles give rise to PELDOR time traces which clearly deviate from stretched exponential decays. The obtained signals can be modeled quantitatively based on the size of the micelles, their aggregation number, the spin-label concentration and the degree of spin-labeling. As a main conclusion a PELDOR signal deviating from a stretched exponential decay does not necessarily prove the observation of specific distance information on the molecule or cluster. These results are important for the interpretation of PELDOR experiments on membrane proteins or lipophilic peptides solubilized in detergent micelles or small vesicles, which often do not show pronounced dipolar oscillations in their time traces. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-17
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


  • Pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR)
  • Double electron-electron resonance (DEER)
  • Pulsed dipolar spectroscopy
  • Detergent solubilization
  • Membrane protein
  • EPR


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