Structural Dynamics of Native-Like Ions in the Gas Phase: Results from Tandem Ion Mobility of Cytochrome c. Samuel J. Allen, Rachel M. Eaton, Matthew F. Bush. Anal. Chem. 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b01234. (Link)
Ion mobility (IM) is a gas-phase separation technique that is used to determine the collision cross sections of native-like ions of proteins and protein complexes, which are in turn used as restraints for modeling the structures of those analytes in solution. Here, we evaluate the stability of native-like ions using tandem IM experiments implemented using structures for lossless ion manipulations (SLIM). In this implementation of tandem IM, ions undergo a first dimension of IM up to a switch that is used to selectively transmit ions of a desired mobility. Selected ions are accumulated in a trap and then released after a delay to initiate the second dimension of IM. For delays ranging from 16 to 33 231 ms, the collision cross sections of native-like, 7+ cytochrome c ions increase monotonically from 15.1 to 17.1 nm2. The largest products formed in these experiments at near-ambient temperature are still far smaller than those formed in energy-dependent experiments (∼21 nm2). However, the collision cross section increases by ∼2% between delay times of 16 and 211 ms, which may have implications for other IM experiments on these time scales. Finally, two subpopulations from the full population were each mobility selected and analyzed as a function of delay time, showing that the three populations can be differentiated for at least 1 s. Together, these results suggest that elements of native-like structure can have long lifetimes at near-ambient temperature in the gas phase but that gas-phase dynamics should be considered when interpreting results from IM.