Get access

Charge-reduced nano electrospray ionization combined with differential mobility analysis of peptides, proteins, glycoproteins, noncovalent protein complexes and viruses

Authors


Abstract

This study explores the potential of a novel electrospray-based method, termed gas-phase electrophoretic mobility molecular analysis (GEMMA), allowing the molecular mass determination of peptides, proteins and noncovalent biocomplexes up to 2 MDa (dimer of immunglobulin M). The macromolecular ions were formed by nano electrospray ionization (ESI) in the ‘cone jet’ mode. The multiple charged state of the monodisperse droplets/ions generated was reduced by means of bipolar ionized air (generated by an α-particle source) to yield exclusively singly charged positive and negative ions as well as neutrals. These ions are separated subsequently at atmospheric pressure using a nano differential mobility analyzer according to their electrophoretic mobility in air. Finally, the ions are detected using a standard condensation particle counter. Data were expressed as electrophoretic mobility diameters by applying the Millikan equation. The measured electrophoretic mobility diameters, or Millikan diameters, of 32 well-defined proteins were plotted against their molecular weights in the range 3.5 to 1920 kDa and exhibited an excellent squared correlation coefficient (r2 = 0.999). This finding allowed the exact molecular weight determination of large (glyco)proteins and noncovalent biocomplexes by means of this new technique with a mass accuracy of ±5.6% up to 2 MDa at the femtomole level. From the molecular masses of the weakly bound, large protein complexes thus obtained, the binding stoichiometry of the intact complex and the complex stability as a function of pH, for example, can be derived. Examples of specific protein complexes, such as the avidin or catalase homo-tetramer, are used to illustrate the potential of the technique for characterization of high-mass biospecific complexes. A discussion of current and future applications of charge-reduced nano ESI GEMMA, such as chemical reaction monitoring (reduction process of immunglobulin G) or size determination of an intact virus, a supramolecular complex, and monitoring of partial dissociation of a human rhinoviruses, is provided. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary