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Theoretical investigations of the dissociation of charged protein complexes in the gas phase

TitleTheoretical investigations of the dissociation of charged protein complexes in the gas phase
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsWanasundara, SN, Thachuk, M
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Date PublishedDec
ISBN Number1044-0305

A series of calculations, varying from simple electrostatic to more detailed semi-empirical based molecular dynamics ones, were carried out on charged gas phase ions of the cytochrome c’ dimer. The energetics of differing charge states, charge partitionings, and charge configurations were examined in both the low and high charge regimes. As well, preliminary free energy calculations of dissociation barriers are presented. It is shown that one must always consider distributions of charge configurations, once protein relaxation effects are taken into account, and that no single configuration dominates. All these results also indicate that in the high charge limit, the dissociation of protein complex ions is governed by electrostatic repulsion from the net charges, the consequences of which are enumerated and discussed. There are two main trends deriving from this, namely that charges will move so as to approximately maintain constant surface charge density, and that the lowest barrier to dissociation is the one that produces fragment ions with equal charges. In particular, it is shown that the charge-to-mass ratio of a fragment ion is not the key physical parameter in predicting dissociation products. In fact, from the perspective of the division of total charge, many dissociation pathways reported to be "asymmetric" in the literature should be more properly labelled as "symmetric" or "near-symmetric". The Coulomb repulsion model assumes that the timescale for charge transfer is faster than that for protein structural changes, which in turn is faster than that for complex dissociation.

URL<Go to ISI>://000251589100018