Ion Mobility of Proteins in Nitrogen Gas: Effects of Charge State, Charge Distribution, and Structure. Daniele Canzani, Kenneth J. Laszlo, Matthew F. Bush. J. Phys. Chem. A 2018, in press. (Link)
Ion mobility is emerging as a rapid and sensitive tool for structural characterization. Collision cross-section (Ω) values determined using ion mobility are often compared to values calculated for candidate structures generated through molecular modeling. Several methods exist for calculating Ω values, but the trajectory method explicitly includes contributions from long-range, ion–neutral interactions. Recent implementations of the trajectory method have significantly reduced its expense and have made applications to proteins far more tractable. Here, we use ion mobility experiments and trajectory method calculations to characterize the effects of charge state, charge distribution, and structure on the ion mobility of proteins in nitrogen gas. These results show that ion-induced dipole interactions contribute significantly to the Ω values of these ions with nitrogen gas, even for the modestly charged ions commonly observed in native mass spectrometry experiments. Therefore, these interactions contribute significantly to the values measured in most structural biology and biophysics applications of ion mobility using nitrogen gas. Comparisons between the reciprocal mobilities of protein ions in helium gas and in nitrogen gas show that there are significant, noncorrelated differences between these values. As a consequence, it is challenging to estimate the errors associated with interconverting between helium- and nitrogen-based mobilities without extensive characterization in both gases, even for ions of proteins with similar sequences. Therefore, we recommend reporting Ω and mobility values that are based on the predominant gas present in the separation and applying additional caution when comparing results from mobility experiments performed using different gases.