2019 Volume 16 Pages 41-58
Circular dichroism spectroscopy is widely used for analyzing the structures of chiral molecules, including biomolecules. Vacuum-ultraviolet circular dichroism (VUVCD) spectroscopy using synchrotron radiation can extend the short-wavelength limit into the vacuum-ultraviolet region (down to ~160 nm) to provide detailed and new information about the structures of biomolecules in combination with theoretical analysis and bioinformatics. The VUVCD spectra of saccharides can detect the high-energy transitions of chromophores such as hydroxy and acetal groups, disclosing the contributions of inter- or intramolecular hydrogen bonds to the equilibrium configuration of monosaccharides in aqueous solution. The roles of hydration in the fluctuation of the dihedral angles of carboxyl and amino groups of amino acids can be clarified by comparing the observed VUVCD spectra with those calculated theoretically. The VUVCD spectra of proteins markedly improves the accuracy of predicting the contents and number of segments of the secondary structures, and their amino acid sequences when combined with bioinformatics, for not only native but also nonnative and membrane-bound proteins. The VUVCD spectra of nucleic acids confirm the contributions of the base composition and sequence to the conformation in comparative analyses of synthetic polynucleotides composed of selected bases. This review surveys these recent applications of synchrotron-radiation VUVCD spectroscopy in structural biology, covering saccharides, amino acids, proteins, and nucleic acids.