Electrospray droplet exposure to gaseous acids for the manipulation of protein charge state distributions.

Kharlamova A, Prentice BM, Huang TY, McLuckey SA
Anal Chem. 2010 82 (17): 7422-9

PMID: 20712348 · PMCID: PMC2940272 · DOI:10.1021/ac101578q

The exposure of electrospray droplets to acid vapors can significantly affect protein charge state distributions (CSDs) derived from unbuffered solutions. Such experiments have been conducted by leaking acidic vapors into the counter-current nitrogen drying gas of an electrospray interface. On the basis of changes in protein CSDs, protein folding and unfolding phenomena are implicated in these studies. Additionally, noncovalently bound complexes are preserved, and transient intermediates are observed, such as high charge state ions of holomyoglobin. CSDs of proteins containing disulfide bonds shift slightly, if at all, with acid vapor leak-in, but when these disulfide bonds are reduced in solution, charge states higher than the number of basic sites (Lys, Arg, His, and N-terminus) are observed. Since there is no observed change in the CSD of buffered proteins exposed to acidic vapors, this novel multiple charging phenomenon is attributed to a pH effect. Thus, this acid vapor leak-in approach can be used to reverse "wrong-way-round" nanoelectrospray conditions by altering solution pH in the charged droplets relative to the pH in bulk solution. In general, the exposure of electrospray droplets to acidic vapors provides means for altering protein CSDs independent of bulk unbuffered solution pH.

MeSH Terms (9)

Cytochromes c Gases Hydrogen-Ion Concentration Myoglobin Protein Conformation Protein Folding Proteins Solvents Tandem Mass Spectrometry

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