Assessing the dipole moments and directional cross sections of proteins and complexes by differential ion mobility spectrometry

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Pathak, Pratima
Shvartsburg, Alexandre A.

Pathak, P. S., Alexandre A. (2022). Assessing the Dipole Moments and Directional Cross Sections of Proteins and Complexes by Differential Ion Mobility Spectrometry. Anal. Chem., 94(19).


Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) has become a mainstream approach to fractionate complex mixtures, separate isomers, and assign the molecular geometries. All modalities were grouped into linear IMS (based on the absolute ion mobility, K) and field asymmetric waveform IMS (FAIMS) relying on the evolution of K at a high normalized electric field (E/N) that induces strong ion heating. In the recently demonstrated low-field differential (LOD) IMS, the field is too weak for significant heating but locks the macromolecular dipoles to produce novel separations controlled by the relevant directional collision cross sections (CCSs). Here, we show LODIMS for mass-selected species, exploring the dipole alignment across charge states for the monomers and dimers of an exemplary protein, the alcohol dehydrogenase. Distinct conformational families for aligned species are revealed with directional CCS estimated from the field-dependent trend lines. We set up a model to extract the fractions of pendular conformers as a function of field intensity and translate them into dipole moment distributions. These developments make a critical step toward establishing LODIMS as a new tool for top-down proteomics and integrative structural biology.

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