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Anal Chem. 2016 Feb 16;88(4):2033-40. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b02750. Epub 2016 Feb 4.

Gas-Phase Dopant-Induced Conformational Changes Monitored with Transversal Modulation Ion Mobility Spectrometry.

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Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zurich , CH-8093, Zurich, Switzerland.
Fossil Ion Technology (FIT) , Cipreses 18, 28036, Madrid, Spain.


The potential of a Transversal Modulation Ion Mobility Spectrometry (TMIMS) instrument for protein analysis applications has been evaluated. The Collision Cross Section (CCS) of cytochrome c measured with the TMIMS is in agreement with values reported in the literature. Additionally, it enables tandem IMS-IMS prefiltration in dry gas and in vapor doped gas. The chemical specificity of the different dopants enables interesting studies on the structure of proteins as CCS changed strongly depending on the specific dopant. Hexane produced an unexpectedly high CCS shift, which can be utilized to evaluate the exposure of hydrophobic parts of the protein. Alcohols produced higher shifts with a dual behavior: an increase in CCS due to vapor uptake at specific absorption sites, followed by a linear shift typical for unspecific and unstable vapor uptake. The molten globule +8 shows a very specific transition. Initially, its CCS follows the trend of the compact folded states, and then it rapidly increases to the levels of the unfolded states. This strong variation suggests that the +8 charge state undergoes a dopant-induced conformational change. Interestingly, more sterically demanding alcohols seem to unfold the protein more effectively also in the gas phase. This study shows the capabilities of the TMIMS device for protein analysis and how tandem IMS-IMS with dopants could provide better understanding of the conformational changes of proteins.

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