Takahashi, H., et al., Solid-State NMR on Bacterial Cells: Selective Cell Wall Signal Enhancement and Resolution Improvement using Dynamic Nuclear Polarization. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013.
Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) enhanced solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) has recently emerged as a powerful technique for the study of material surfaces. In this study, we demonstrate its potential to investigate cell surface in intact cells. Using Bacillus subtilis bacterial cells as an example, it is shown that the polarizing agent 1-(TEMPO-4-oxy)-3-(TEMPO-4-amino)propan-2-ol (TOTAPOL) has a strong binding affinity to cell wall polymers (peptidoglycan). This particular interaction is thoroughly investigated with a systematic study on extracted cell wall materials, disrupted cells, and entire cells, which proved that TOTAPOL is mainly accumulating in the cell wall. This property is used on one hand to selectively enhance or suppress cell wall signals by controlling radical concentrations and on the other hand to improve spectral resolution by means of a difference spectrum. Comparing DNP-enhanced and conventional solid-state NMR, an absolute sensitivity ratio of 24 was obtained on the entire cell sample. This important increase in sensitivity together with the possibility of enhancing specifically cell wall signals and improving resolution really opens new avenues for the use of DNP-enhanced solid-state NMR as an on-cell investigation tool.