Electron capture dissociation (ECD) of proteins in Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry usually leads to charge reduction and backbone-bond cleavage, thereby mostly retaining labile, intramolecular noncovalent interactions. In this report, we evaluate ECD of the 84-kDa noncovalent heptameric gp31 complex and compare this with sustained off-resonance irradiation collisionally activated dissociation (SORI-CAD) of the same protein. Unexpectedly, the 21+ charge state of the gp31 oligomer exhibits a main ECD pathway resulting in a hexamer and monomer, disrupting labile, intermolecular noncovalent bonds and leaving the backbone intact. Unexpectedly, the charge separation over the two products is highly proportional to molecular weight. This indicates that a major charge redistribution over the subunits of the complex does not take place during ECD, in contrast to the behavior observed when using SORI-CAD. We speculate that the ejected monomer retains more of its original structure in ECD, when compared to SORI-CAD. ECD of lower charge states of gp31 does not lead to dissociation of noncovalent bonds. We hypothesize that the initial gas-phase structure of the 21+ charge state is significantly different from the lower charge states. These structural differences result in the different reaction pathways when using ECD.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1021/ac060960p
Journal Anal. Chem.
Geels, R.B.J, van der Vies, S.M, Heck, A.J.R, & Heeren, R.M.A. (2006). Electron capture dissociation as structural probe for noncovalent gas-phase protein assemblies. Anal. Chem., 78, 7191–7196. doi:10.1021/ac060960p