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Biophys Chem. 1999 Jun 7;79(2):63-79.

Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry in the study of biomolecular non-covalent interactions.

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Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, PO Box 999, MSIN K8-98, Richland, WA 99352, USA.


In the past mass spectrometry has been limited to the study of small, stable molecules, however, with the emergence of electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) large biomolecules as well as non-covalent biomolecular complexes can be studied. ESI-MS has been used to study non-covalent interactions involving proteins with metals, ligands, peptides, oligonucleotides, as well as other proteins. Although complementary to other well-established techniques such as circular dichroism and fluorescence spectroscopy, ESI-MS offers some advantages in speed, sensitivity, and directness particularly in the determination of the stoichiometry of the complex. One major advantage is the ability of ESI-MS to provide multiple signals each arising from a distinct population within the sample. In this review I will discuss some of the different types of non-covalent biomolecular interactions that have been studied using ESI-MS, highlighting examples which show the efficacy of using ESI-MS to probe the structure of biomolecular complexes.

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