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Bond-Specific Dissociation Following Excitation Energy Transfer for Distance Constraint Determination in the Gas Phase

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journal contribution
posted on 17.12.2015, 04:46 by Nathan G. Hendricks, Nichole M. Lareau, Sarah M. Stow, John A. McLean, Ryan R. Julian
Herein, we report chemistry that enables excitation energy transfer (EET) to be accurately measured via action spectroscopy on gaseous ions in an ion trap. It is demonstrated that EET between tryptophan or tyrosine and a disulfide bond leads to excited state, homolytic fragmentation of the disulfide bond. This phenomenon exhibits a tight distance dependence, which is consistent with Dexter exchange transfer. The extent of fragmentation of the disulfide bond can be used to determine the distance between the chromophore and disulfide bond. The chemistry is well suited for the examination of protein structure in the gas phase because native amino acids can serve as the donor/acceptor moieties. Furthermore, both tyrosine and tryptophan exhibit unique action spectra, meaning that the identity of the donating chromophore can be easily determined in addition to the distance between donor/acceptor. Application of the method to the Trpcage miniprotein reveals distance constraints that are consistent with a native-like fold for the +2 charge state in the gas phase. This structure is stabilized by several salt bridges, which have also been observed to be important previously in proteins that retain native-like structures in the gas phase. The ability of this method to measure specific distance constraints, potentially at numerous positions if combined with site-directed mutagenesis, significantly enhances our ability to examine protein structure in the gas phase.