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Sci Rep. 2017 Oct 11;7(1):12946. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-13371-7.

Plasma-Generated OH Radical Production for Analyzing Three-Dimensional Structure in Protein Therapeutics.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.
Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.


Protein three-dimensional structure dynamically changes in solution depending on the presence of ligands and interacting proteins. Methods for detecting these changes in protein conformation include 'protein footprinting,' using mass spectrometry. We describe herein a new technique, PLIMB (Plasma Induced Modification of Biomolecules), that generates µs bursts of hydroxyl radicals from water, to measure changes in protein structure via altered solvent accessibility of amino acid side chains. PLIMB was first benchmarked with model compounds, and then applied to a biological problem, i.e., ligand (EGF) induced changes in the conformation of the external (ecto) domain of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR). Regions in which oxidation decreased upon adding EGF fall along the dimerization interface, consistent with models derived from crystal structures. These results demonstrate that plasma-generated hydroxyl radicals from water can be used to map protein conformational changes, and provide a readily accessible means of studying protein structure in solution.

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