Noncovalent mass spectrometry (MS) is emerging as an invaluable technique to probe the structure, interactions, and dynamics of membrane proteins (MPs). However, maintaining native-like MP conformations in the gas phase using detergent solubilized proteins is often challenging and may limit structural analysis. Amphipols, such as the well characterized A8-35, are alternative reagents able to maintain the solubility of MPs in detergent-free solution. In this work, the ability of A8-35 to retain the structural integrity of MPs for interrogation by electrospray ionization-ion mobility spectrometry-mass spectrometry (ESI-IMS-MS) is compared systematically with the commonly used detergent dodecylmaltoside. MPs from the two major structural classes were selected for analysis, including two β-barrel outer MPs, PagP and OmpT (20.2 and 33.5 kDa, respectively), and two α-helical proteins, Mhp1 and GalP (54.6 and 51.7 kDa, respectively). Evaluation of the rotationally averaged collision cross sections of the observed ions revealed that the native structures of detergent solubilized MPs were not always retained in the gas phase, with both collapsed and unfolded species being detected. In contrast, ESI-IMS-MS analysis of the amphipol solubilized MPs studied resulted in charge state distributions consistent with less gas phase induced unfolding, and the presence of lowly charged ions which exhibit collision cross sections comparable with those calculated from high resolution structural data. The data demonstrate that A8-35 can be more effective than dodecylmaltoside at maintaining native MP structure and interactions in the gas phase, permitting noncovalent ESI-IMS-MS analysis of MPs from the two major structural classes, while gas phase dissociation from dodecylmaltoside micelles leads to significant gas phase unfolding, especially for the α-helical MPs studied.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry