Measuring Positive Cooperativity Using the Direct ESI-MS Assay. Cholera Toxin B Subunit Homopentamer Binding to GM1 Pentasaccharide

  • Hong Lin
  • Elena N. Kitova
  • John S. Klassen
Research Article


Direct electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) assay was used to investigate the stepwise binding of the GM1 pentasaccharide β-D-Galp-(1→3)-β-D-GalpNAc-(1→4)[α-D-Neu5Ac-(2→3)]-β-D-Galp-(1→4)-β-D-Glcp (GM1os) to the cholera toxin B subunit homopentamer (CTB5) and to establish conclusively whether GM1os binding is cooperative. Apparent association constants were measured for the stepwise addition of one to five GM1os to CTB5 at pH 6.9 and 22 °C. The intrinsic association constant, which was established from the apparent association constant for the addition of a single GM1os to CTB5, was found to be (3.2 ± 0.2) × 106 M–1. This is in reasonable agreement with the reported value of (6.4 ± 0.3) × 106 M–1, which was measured at pH 7.4 and 25 °C using isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). Analysis of the apparent association constants provides direct and unambiguous evidence that GM1os binding exhibits small positive cooperativity. Binding was found to be sensitive to the number of ligand-bound nearest neighbor subunits, with the affinities enhanced by a factor of 1.7 and 2.9 when binding occurs next to one or two ligand-bound subunits, respectively. These findings, which provide quantitative support for the binding model proposed by Homans and coworkers [14], highlight the unique strengths of the direct ESI-MS assay for measuring cooperative ligand binding.

Key words

Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry Affinity measurement Cholera toxin GM1 Cooperativity 



The authors acknowledge financial support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Alberta Glycomics Centre.


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Copyright information

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alberta Glycomics Centre and Department of ChemistryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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