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Proteomics. 2014 May;14(10):1259-70. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201300333. Epub 2014 Apr 24.

Investigating macromolecular complexes using top-down mass spectrometry.

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Institute of Structural Biology (Institut de Biologie Structurale), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), University of Grenoble Alpes (Université de Grenoble Alpes), Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives (CEA), DSV, Grenoble, France.


MS has emerged as an important tool to investigate noncovalent interactions between proteins and various ligands (e.g. other proteins, small molecules, or drugs). In particular, ESI under so-called "native conditions" (a.k.a. "native MS") has considerably expanded the scope of such investigations. For instance, ESI quadrupole time of flight (Q-TOF) instruments have been used to probe the precise stoichiometry of protein assemblies, the interactions between subunits and the position of subunits within the complex (i.e. defining core and peripheral subunits). This review highlights several illustrative native Q-TOF-based investigations and recent seminal contributions of top-down MS (i.e. Fourier transform (FT) MS) to the characterization of noncovalent complexes. Combined top-down and native MS, recently demonstrated in "high-mass modified" orbitrap mass spectrometers, and further improvements needed for the enhanced investigation of biologically significant noncovalent interactions by MS will be discussed.


Intact protein assemblies; Native MS; Noncovalent complexes; Technology; Top-down MS

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