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Purified preparations of TEM-2, P99, Bacillus cereus I and B. cereus II beta-lactamases were examined by electrospray (ES) mass spectrometry. The ES mass spectra of the B. cereus enzymes revealed the presence of four to five components of different mass, corresponding to the loss of different numbers of N-terminal amino acids (ragged ends). The ES mass spectra of both TEM-2 and P99 consisted of a single component with no evidence of ragged ends. All four beta-lactamase preparations were visualized on isoelectric focusing (IEF) gels stained with nitrocefin to investigate a possible correlation between IEF patterns and ragged ends. Multiple banding patterns were seen with each beta-lactamase preparation. Although these may correlate with the presence of ragged ends in the two B. cereus preparations, the satellite bands seen with P99 and TEM-2 were not associated with differences detected by ES mass spectrometry. In this study we have shown for the first time that beta-lactamase satellite bands seen on IEF are not always associated with ragged ends. Furthermore, we have illustrated the use of ES mass spectrometry to characterize the extent of ragged end formation in protein samples. This is of particular significance if the sample is required for detailed biochemical or crystallography experiments.

Original publication




Journal article


Biol Mass Spectrom

Publication Date





159 - 164


Isoelectric Focusing, Mass Spectrometry, beta-Lactamases