Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Am Chem Soc. 2003 Mar 5;125(9):2817-26.

Origin of asymmetric charge partitioning in the dissociation of gas-phase protein homodimers.

Author information

  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1460, USA.


The origin of asymmetric charge and mass partitioning observed for gas-phase dissociation of multiply charged macromolecular complexes has been hotly debated. These experiments hold the potential to provide detailed information about the interactions between the macromolecules within the complex. Here, this unusual phenomenon of asymmetric charge partitioning is investigated for several protein homodimers. Asymmetric charge partitioning in these ions depends on a number of factors, including the internal energy, charge state, and gas-phase conformation of the complex, as well as the conformational flexibility of the protein monomer in the complex. High charge states of both cytochrome c and disulfide-reduced alpha-lactalbumin homodimers dissociate by a symmetrical charge partitioning process in which both fragment monomers carry away roughly an equal number of charges. In contrast, highly asymmetric charge partitioning dominates for the lower charge states. Cytochrome c dimer ions with eleven charges formed by electrospray ionization from two solutions in which the solution-phase conformation differs dissociate with dramatically different charge partitioning. These results demonstrate that these gas-phase complexes retain a clear "memory" of the solution from which they are formed, and that information about their solution-phase conformation can be obtained from these gas-phase dissociation experiments. Cytochrome c dimer ions formed from solutions in which the conformation of the protein is native show greater asymmetric charge partitioning with increasing ion internal energy. Cytochrome c dimers that are conformationally constrained with intramolecular cross-linkers undergo predominantly symmetric charge partitioning under conditions where asymmetric charge partitioning is observed for cytochrome c dimers without cross-links. Similar results are observed for alpha-lactalbumin homodimers. These results provide convincing evidence that the origin of asymmetric charge partitioning in these homodimers is the result of one of the protein monomers unfolding in the dissociation transition state. A mechanism that accounts for these observations is proposed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for American Chemical Society Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk