Despite its great success in the field of proteomics, mass spectrometry has limited use for determining structural details of peptides, proteins, and their assemblies. Emerging ion mobility spectrometry-mass spectrometry has enabled us to explore the conformational space of protein ions in the gas phase, and further combinations with the gas-phase ion spectroscopy and the colli-sion-induced unfolding have extended its abilities to elucidating the secondary structure and local details of conformational transi-tions. This review will provide a brief introduction to the combined approaches of IMS-MS with gas-phase ion infrared spectroscopy or collision-induced unfolding and their most recent results that successfully revealed higher-order structural details.
Characterization of intact protein structures in the gas phase using electrospray ionization combined with ion mobility mass spectrometry has become an important tool of research. However, the biophysical properties that govern the structures of protein ions in the gas phase remain to be understood. Here, we investigated the impact of host-guest complexation of ubiquitin (Ubq) with macrocyclic host molecules, cucurbit[n]urils (CB[n]s, n = 6, 7), on its structure in the gas phase. We found that CB[n] complexation induces the formation of compact Ubq ions. Both CB and CB exhibited similar effects despite differences in their binding properties in solution. In addition, CB[n] attachment prevented Ubq from unfolding by collisional activation. Based on the experimental results, we suggest that CB[n]s prevent unfolding of Ubq during transfer to the gas phase to promote the formation of compact protein ions. Furthermore, interaction with positively charged residues per se is suggested to be the most important factor for the host-guest complexation effect.
Studies on the interactions of amyloidogenic proteins with trace metals, such as copper, have indicated that the metal ions perform a critical function in the early oligomerization process. Herein, we investigate the effects of Cu(II) ions on the active sequence regions of amyloidogenic proteins using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) and collision induced dissociation tandem MS (CID-MS/MS). We chose three amyloidogenic peptides NNQQNY, LYQLEN, and VQIVYK from yeast prion like protein Sup35, insulin chain A, and tau protein, respectively. [Cu-peptide] complexes for all three peptides were observed in the mass spectra. The mass spectra also show that increasing Cu(II) concentrations decrease the population of existing peptide oligomers. The tandem mass spectrum of NNQQNY shows preferential binding for the N-terminal region. All three peptides are likely to appear to be in a Cu-monomer-monomer (Cu-M-M) structure instead of a monomer-Cu-monomer (M-Cu-M) structure.
The π-π interactions of the peptide-dimer and peptide-trimer complexes were investigated in the (VQIVYK + LYQLEN) and (VQIVYK + NNQQNY) mixing solutions. The results showed that tyrosine (Y) residues were critical in the for-mation of hetero peptide-dimers and -trimers during the early oligomerization process. We used collision-induced dissociation (CID) along with electrospray ionization mass spectroscopy (ESI-MS) to obtain the structural information of the hetero-dimers and -trimers. We chose three amyloidogenic peptides–VQIVYK, NNQQNY, and LYQLEN–from tau protein, yeast prion-like protein Sup35, and insulin chain A, respectively. Hetero-dimer, -trimer, -tetramer, and -pentamer complexes were observed in the mass spectra. The tandem mass spectrum of the hetero-dimer and hetero-trimer showed two different fragmentation patterns (covalent and non-covalent bond dissociation). Y-Y interaction structures were also proposed for the hetero-dimer and -trimer complexes.
Targeted glycoproteomics is an effective way to discover disease-associated glycoproteins in proteomics and serial affinity chromatography (SAC) using lectin and glycan-targeting antibodies shows glycan diversity on the captured glycoproteins. This study suggests a way to determine glycan heterogeneity and structural analysis on the post-translationally modified proteins through serial affinity column set (SACS) using four Lycopersicon esculentum lectin (LEL) columns. The great advantage of this method is that it differentiates between glycoproteins on the basis of their binding affinity. Through this study, some proteins were identified to have glycoforms with different affinity on a single glycoprotein. It will be particularly useful in determining biomarkers in which the disease-specific feature is a unique glycan, or a group of glycans.