The 'sticky business' of cleaning gas-phase membrane proteins: a detergent oriented perspective.
Borysik AJ., Robinson CV.
In recent years the properties of gas-phase detergent clusters have come under close scrutiny due in part to their participation in the analysis of intact membrane protein complexes by mass spectrometry. The detergent molecules that cover the protein complex are removed in the gas-phase by thermally agitating the ions by collision-induced dissociation. This process however, is not readily controlled and can frequently result in the disruption of protein structure. Improved methods of releasing proteins from detergent clusters are clearly required. To facilitate this the structural properties of detergent clusters along with the mechanistic details of their dissociation need to be understood. Pivotal to understanding the properties of gas-phase detergent clusters is the technique of ion mobility mass spectrometry. This technique can be used to assign polydisperse detergent clusters and provide information about their geometries and packing densities. In this article we consider the shapes of detergent clusters and show that these clusters possess geometries that are inconsistent with those in solution. We analyse the distributions of clusters in detail using tandem mass spectrometry and suggest that the mean charge of clusters formed from certain detergents is governed by electrostatic repulsion. We discuss the dissociation of detergent clusters and propose that detergent evaporation it a key process in the protection of protein complexes during high energy collisions in the gas-phase.