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Distance Geometry Protocol to Generate Conformations of Natural Products to Structurally Interpret Ion Mobility-Mass Spectrometry Collision Cross Sections

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journal contribution
posted on 17.12.2015, 06:07 authored by Sarah M. Stow, Cody R. Goodwin, Michal Kliman, Brian O. Bachmann, John A. McLean, Terry P. Lybrand
Ion mobility-mass spectrometry (IM-MS) allows the separation of ionized molecules based on their charge-to-surface area (IM) and mass-to-charge ratio (MS), respectively. The IM drift time data that is obtained is used to calculate the ion-neutral collision cross section (CCS) of the ionized molecule with the neutral drift gas, which is directly related to the ion conformation and hence molecular size and shape. Studying the conformational landscape of these ionized molecules computationally provides interpretation to delineate the potential structures that these CCS values could represent, or conversely, structural motifs not consistent with the IM data. A challenge in the IM-MS community is the ability to rapidly compute conformations to interpret natural product data, a class of molecules exhibiting a broad range of biological activity. The diversity of biological activity is, in part, related to the unique structural characteristics often observed for natural products. Contemporary approaches to structurally interpret IM-MS data for peptides and proteins typically utilize molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to sample conformational space. However, MD calculations are computationally expensive, they require a force field that accurately describes the molecule of interest, and there is no simple metric that indicates when sufficient conformational sampling has been achieved. Distance geometry is a computationally inexpensive approach that creates conformations based on sampling different pairwise distances between the atoms within the molecule and therefore does not require a force field. Progressively larger distance bounds can be used in distance geometry calculations, providing in principle a strategy to assess when all plausible conformations have been sampled. Our results suggest that distance geometry is a computationally efficient and potentially superior strategy for conformational analysis of natural products to interpret gas-phase CCS data.