Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

, Volume 17, Issue 10, pp 1470–1479

The role of conformation on electron capture dissociation of ubiquitin


  • Errol W. Robinson
    • Department of ChemistryUniversity of California
  • Ryan D. Leib
    • Department of ChemistryUniversity of California
    • Department of ChemistryUniversity of California

DOI: 10.1016/j.jasms.2006.06.027

Cite this article as:
Robinson, E.W., Leib, R.D. & Williams, E.R. J Am Soc Mass Spectrom (2006) 17: 1470. doi:10.1016/j.jasms.2006.06.027


Effects of protein conformation on electron capture dissociation (ECD) were investigated using high-field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) and Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry. Under the conditions of these experiments, the electron capture efficiency of ubiquitin 6+ formed from three different solution compositions differs significantly, ranging from 51 ± 7% for ions formed from an acidified water/methanol solution to 88 ± 2% for ions formed from a buffered aqueous solution. This result clearly indicates that these protein ions retain a memory of their solution-phase structure and that conformational differences can be probed in an ECD experiment. Multiple conformers for the 7+ and 8+ charge states of ubiquitin were separated using FAIMS. ECD spectra of conformer selected ions of the same charge states differ both in electron capture efficiency and in the fragment ion intensities. Conformers of a given charge state that have smaller collisional cross sections can have either a larger or smaller electron capture efficiency. A greater electron capture efficiency was observed for ubiquitin 6+ that has the same collisional cross section as one ubiquitin 7+ conformer, despite the lower charge state. These results indicate that the shape of the molecule can have a greater effect on electron capture efficiency than either collisional cross section or charge state alone. The cleavage locations of different conformers of a given charge state were the same indicating that the presence of different conformers in the gas phase is not due to difference in where charges are located, but rather reflect conformational differences most likely originating from solution. Small neutral losses observed from the singly- and doubly-reduced ubiquitin 6+ do not show a temperature dependence to their formation, consistent with these ions being formed by nonergodic processes.

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© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2006