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The biological function of protein, DNA, and RNA molecules often depends on relative movements of domains with dimensions of a few nanometers. This length scale can be accessed by distance measurements between spin labels if pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) techniques such as electron–electron double resonance (ELDOR) and double-quantum EPR are used. The approach does not require crystalline samples and is well suited to biomacromolecules with an intrinsic flexibility as distributions of distances can be measured. Furthermore, oligomerization or complexation of biomacromolecules can also be studied, even if it is incomplete. The sensitivity of the technique and the reliability of the measured distance distribution depend on careful optimization of the experimental conditions and procedures for data analysis. Interpretation of spin-to-spin distance distributions in terms of the structure of the biomacromolecules furthermore requires a model for the conformational distribution of the spin labels.
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Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics
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