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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2010 Jun;21(6):971-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jasms.2009.12.010. Epub 2010 Jan 4.

Current limitations in native mass spectrometry based structural biology.

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  • 1Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Group, Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research and Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Nowadays, mass spectrometry plays an important role in structural biology. At one end it can be used to investigate intact protein complexes, providing details about the complex composition, topology, stability, and dynamics, whereas at the other end the protein's identity and possible modifications can be visualized using proteomics approaches. Combining all this information allows the generation of detailed models for functional biological assemblies. Here, a perspective on the application of native mass spectrometry in structural biology is presented. The potential of this technique and some important current limitations are discussed. This includes issues regarding the quality/homogeneity of the sample, the dissociation efficiency of protein complexes during tandem mass spectrometric analysis, and some boundaries of ion mobility mass spectrometry.

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