Author(s): Loo RR, Dales N, Andrews PC
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Abstract Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) has proven to be a useful tool for examining noncovalent complexes between proteins and a variety of ligands. It has also been used to distinguish between denatured and refolded forms of proteins. Surfactants are frequently employed to enhance solubilization or to modify the tertiary or quaternary structure of proteins, but are usually considered incompatible with mass spectrometry. A broad range of ionic, nonionic, and zwitterionic surfactants was examined to characterize their effects on ESI-MS and on protein structure under ESI-MS conditions. Solution conditions studied include 4\% acetic acid/50\% acetonitrile/46\% H2O and 100\% aqueous. Of the surfactants examined, the nonionic saccharides, such as n-dodecyl-beta-D-glucopyranoside, at 0.1\% to 0.01\% (w/v) concentrations, performed best, with limited interference from chemical background and adduct formation. Under the experimental conditions used, ESI-MS performance in the presence of surfactants was found to be unrelated to critical micelle concentration. It is demonstrated that surfactants can affect both the tertiary and quaternary structures of proteins under conditions used for ESI-MS. However, several of the surfactants caused significant shifts in the charge-state distributions, which appeared to be independent of conformational effects. These observations suggest that surfactants, used in conjunction with ESI-MS, can be useful for protein structure studies, if care is used in the interpretation of the results.
This article was published in Protein Sci
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics