Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

First Advisor

Dr. Hunter Moseley


Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a highly versatile analytical technique for studying molecular configuration, conformation, and dynamics, especially of biomacromolecules such as proteins. However, due to the intrinsic properties of NMR experiments, results from the NMR instruments require a refencing step before the down-the-line analysis. Poor chemical shift referencing, especially for 13C in protein Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) experiments, fundamentally limits and even prevents effective study of biomacromolecules via NMR. There is no available method that can rereference carbon chemical shifts from protein NMR without secondary experimental information such as structure or resonance assignment.

To solve this problem, we constructed a Bayesian probabilistic framework that circumvents the limitations of previous reference correction methods that required protein resonance assignment and/or three-dimensional protein structure. Our algorithm named Bayesian Model Optimized Reference Correction (BaMORC) can detect and correct 13C chemical shift referencing errors before the protein resonance assignment step of analysis and without a three-dimensional structure. By combining the BaMORC methodology with a new intra-peaklist grouping algorithm, we created a combined method called Unassigned BaMORC that utilizes only unassigned experimental peak lists and the amino acid sequence.

Unassigned BaMORC kept all experimental three-dimensional HN(CO)CACB-type peak lists tested within ± 0.4 ppm of the correct 13C reference value. On a much larger unassigned chemical shift test set, the base method kept 13C chemical shift referencing errors to within ± 0.45 ppm at a 90% confidence interval. With chemical shift assignments, Assigned BaMORC can detect and correct 13C chemical shift referencing errors to within ± 0.22 at a 90% confidence interval. Therefore, Unassigned BaMORC can correct 13C chemical shift referencing errors when it will have the most impact, right before protein resonance assignment and other downstream analyses are started. After assignment, chemical shift reference correction can be further refined with Assigned BaMORC.

To further support a broader usage of these new methods, we also created a software package with web-based interface for the NMR community. This software will allow non-NMR experts to detect and correct 13C referencing errors at critical early data analysis steps, lowering the bar of NMR expertise required for effective protein NMR analysis.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)