Review Article | Published:

The power of ion mobility-mass spectrometry for structural characterization and the study of conformational dynamics

Nature Chemistry volume 6, pages 281294 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

Mass spectrometry is a vital tool for molecular characterization, and the allied technique of ion mobility is enhancing many areas of (bio)chemical analysis. Strong synergy arises between these two techniques because of their ability to ascertain complementary information about gas-phase ions. Ion mobility separates ions (from small molecules up to megadalton protein complexes) based on their differential mobility through a buffer gas. Ion mobility-mass spectrometry (IM-MS) can thus act as a tool to separate complex mixtures, to resolve ions that may be indistinguishable by mass spectrometry alone, or to determine structural information (for example rotationally averaged cross-sectional area), complementary to more traditional structural approaches. Finally, IM-MS can be used to gain insights into the conformational dynamics of a system, offering a unique means of characterizing flexibility and folding mechanisms. This Review critically describes how IM-MS has been used to enhance various areas of chemical and biophysical analysis.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the financial support of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/H007113/1, BB/G009058/1, BB/F00561X/1) and the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), which funded GlycoBioM. C.G. is supported by a BBSRC doctoral training grant. Finally, we thank P. Eyers for a critical reading of the review.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Protein Function Group, Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 7ZB, UK

    • Francesco Lanucara
    • , Stephen W. Holman
    •  & Claire E. Eyers
  2. Michael Barber Centre for Mass Spectrometry, Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, School of Chemistry, University of Manchester, 131 Princess Street, Manchester M1 7DN, UK

    • Francesco Lanucara
    • , Stephen W. Holman
    • , Christopher J. Gray
    •  & Claire E. Eyers

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Contributions

F.L., S.W.H. and C.J.G. contributed equally to this paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Claire E. Eyers.

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Publication history

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Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1889

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