Exploring gas-phase protein conformations by ion mobility-mass spectrometry
Analysis and characterisation of biomolecules using mass spectrometry has advanced over the past decade due to improvements in instrument design and capability; relevant use of complementary techniques; and available experimental and in silico data for comparison with cutting-edge research. This thesis presents ion mobility data, collected on an in-house modified QToF mass spectrometer (the MoQTOF), for a number of protein systems. Two haemoproteins, cytochrome c and haemoglobin, have been characterised and rotationally-averaged collision cross-sections for a number of multimeric species are presented. Intact multiply-charged multimers of the form [xCyt c + nH]z+ where x = 1 (monomer), x = 2 (dimer) and x = 3 (trimer) for cytochrome c have been elucidated and for species with x ≥ 2, reported for the first time. Fragment ions possibly attributed to a novel fragmentation mechanism, native electron capture dissociation, are reported with a brief discussion into their possible production from the dissociation of the gas-phase dimer species. Haemoglobin monomer globin subunits, dimers and intact tetramer have been successfully transferred to the gas phase, and their cross-sections elucidated. Comparisons with in silico computational data have been made and a discussion of the biologically-active tetramer association/dissociation technique is presented. Three further proteins have been studied and their gas-phase collision cross-sections calculated. Two regions of the large Factor H (fH) complement glycoprotein, fH 10-15 and fH 19-20, have been characterised for the first time by ion mobility-mass spectrometry. Much work using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy has previously been achieved to produce structural information of these protein regions, however further biophysical characterisation using mass spectrometry may aid in greater understanding of the interactions these two specific regions have with other biomolecules. The DNA-binding core domain of the tumour suppressor p53 has been characterised and cross-sections produced in the presence and absence of the zinc metal ion that may control the domain’s biological activity. Within this core domain, p53 inactivation mutations have been shown to occur in up to 50% of human cancers, therefore the potential exists to further cancer-fighting activity through research on this region. Anterior Gradient-2 (AGR2) protein facilitates downregulation of p53 in an as yet unclear mechanism. Recent work using peptide aptamers has demonstrated that this downregulation can be disrupted and levels of p53 restored. Collision cross-sections for six peptide aptamers have been calculated, as well as cross-sections for multimers of AGR2 protein. A complex between one aptamer with the protein has also been elucidated. Use of the commercially available Synapt HDMS ion mobility-mass spectrometer at Waters MS Technologies Centre (Manchester, UK) allowed data to be collected for both Factor H protein regions and for the DNA-binding core domain of p53. Data are compared in the appropriate chapters with data collected using the MoQTOF.