American Chemical Society
nn2c04831_si_001.pdf (2.03 MB)

A Preparative Mass Spectrometer to Deposit Intact Large Native Protein Complexes

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-08-29, 19:34 authored by Paul Fremdling, Tim K. Esser, Bodhisattwa Saha, Alexander A. Makarov, Kyle L. Fort, Maria Reinhardt-Szyba, Joseph Gault, Stephan Rauschenbach
Electrospray ion-beam deposition (ES-IBD) is a versatile tool to study the structure and reactivity of molecules from small metal clusters to large protein assemblies. It brings molecules gently into the gas phase, where they can be accurately manipulated and purified, followed by controlled deposition onto various substrates. In combination with imaging techniques, direct structural information on well-defined molecules can be obtained, which is essential to test and interpret results from indirect mass spectrometry techniques. To date, ion-beam deposition experiments are limited to a small number of custom instruments worldwide, and there are no commercial alternatives. Here we present a module that adds ion-beam deposition capabilities to a popular commercial MS platform (Thermo Scientific Q Exactive UHMR mass spectrometer). This combination significantly reduces the overhead associated with custom instruments, while benefiting from established high performance and reliability. We present current performance characteristics including beam intensity, landing-energy control, and deposition spot size for a broad range of molecules. In combination with atomic force microscopy (AFM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we distinguish near-native from unfolded proteins and show retention of the native shape of protein assemblies after dehydration and deposition. Further, we use an enzymatic assay to quantify the activity of a noncovalent protein complex after deposition on a dry surface. Together, these results not only indicate a great potential of ES-IBD for applications in structural biology, but also outline the challenges that need to be solved for it to reach its full potential.