• egg cystatin;
  • electrospray;
  • H/D exchange;
  • hexapole-CID;
  • noncovalent interaction


We investigated the interaction between a thiol protease inhibitor, cystatin, and its target enzyme, papain, by hydrogen-deuterium (H/D) exchange in conjunction with successive analysis by collision-induced dissociation (CID) in an rf-only hexapole ion guide with electrospray ionization-Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (ESI-FTICR MS). The deuterium incorporation into backbone amide hydrogens of cystatin was analyzed at different time points in the presence or absence of papain, examining the mass of each fragment produced by hexapole-CID. In the absence of papain, amide hydrogens in short amino-terminal fragments, such as b2+10 and b2+12, were highly deuterated within 1 min. Although fewer fragments were observed for the cystatin-papain complex in the hexapole-CID spectra, significant reductions in initial deuterium content were recognized throughout the sequence of cystatin. This suggests that complex formation restricted the flexibility of the whole cystatin molecule. Detailed analyses revealed that a marked reduction in deuterium content in the region of residues 1-10 persisted for hours, suggesting that the flexible N-terminal region was tightly fixed in the binding pocket with hydrogen bonds. Our results are consistent with those of previous studies on the structure and inhibition mechanism of cystatin. We demonstrated here that enzyme-inhibitor interactions can be characterized by H/D exchange in combination with CID in a hexapole ion guide using ESI-FTICR MS rapidly and using only a small amount of sample.