An analytical method based on a three-time correlation function and the corresponding two-dimensional (2D) lifetime spectrum is developed to elucidate the time-dependent couplings between the multi-timescale (i.e., hierarchical) conformational dynamics in heterogeneous systems such as proteins. In analogy with 2D NMR, IR, electronic, and fluorescence spectroscopies, the waiting-time dependence of the off-diagonal peaks in the 2D lifetime spectra can provide a quantitative description of the dynamical correlations between the conformational motions with different lifetimes. The present method is applied to intrinsic conformational changes of substrate-free adenylate kinase (AKE) using long-time coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations. It is found that the hierarchical conformational dynamics arise from the intra-domain structural transitions among conformational substates of AKE by analyzing the one-time correlation functions and one-dimensional lifetime spectra for the donor-acceptor distances corresponding to single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer experiments with the use of the principal component analysis. In addition, the complicated waiting-time dependence of the off-diagonal peaks in the 2D lifetime spectra for the donor-acceptor distances is attributed to the fact that the time evolution of the couplings between the conformational dynamics depends upon both the spatial and temporal characters of the system. The present method is expected to shed light on the biological relationship among the structure, dynamics, and function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry