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J Am Chem Soc. 2003 May 7;125(18):5331-9.

Electrospray ionization Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometric analysis of metal-ion selected dynamic protein libraries.

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Ion Cyclotron Resonance Program, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Florida State University, 1800 East Paul Dirac Drive, Tallahassee, Florida 32310-3706, USA.


The application of electrospray ionization (ESI) Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FT-ICR) mass spectrometry to the investigation of the relative stabilities (and thus packing efficiencies) of Fe-bound trihelix peptide bundles is demonstrated. Small dynamic protein libraries are created by metal-ion assisted assembly of peptide subunits. Control of the trimeric aggregation state is coupled to stability selection by exploiting the coordination requirements of Fe(2+) in the presence of bidentate 2,2'-bipyridyl ligands covalently appended to the peptide monomers. At limiting metal-ion concentration, the most thermodynamically stable, optimally packed peptide trimers dominate the mass spectrum. The identities of optimally stable candidate trimers observed in the ESI FT-ICR mass spectra are confirmed by resynthesis of exchange-inert analogues and measurement of their folding free energies. The peptide composition of the trimers may be determined by infrared multiphoton dissociation (IRMPD) MS(3) experiments. Additional sequence information for the peptide subunits is obtained from electron capture dissociation (ECD) of peptides and metal-bound trimers. The experiments also suggest the presence of secondary structure in the gas phase, possibly due to partial retention of the solution-phase coiled coil structure.

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