The recent development of electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) has allowed its use to study molecular interactions driven by non-covalent forces. ESI-MS has been used to detect non-covalent complexes between proteins and metals, ligands and peptides and interactions involving DNA, RNA, oligonucleotides and drugs. Surprisingly, the study of the interaction between polyphenolic molecules and peptides/proteins is still an area where ESI-MS has not benefited. With regard to the important influence of these interactions in the biological and food domains, ESI-MS was applied to the detection and the characterization of soluble polyphenol-peptide complexes formed in model solution. The ability to observe and monitor the weak interactions involved in such macromolecular complexation phenomena was demonstrated for monomeric and dimeric flavonoid molecules (catechin-derived compounds) largely encountered in plants and plant derived products. Intact non-covalent polyphenol-peptide complexes were observed by ESI-MS using different experimental conditions. Utilizing mild ESI interface conditions allowed the detection of 1 : 1 polyphenol-peptide complexes in all tested solutions and 2 : 1 complexes for the dimers and galloylated polyphenols (flavanols). These results show that there is a preferential interaction between polymerized and/or galloylated polyphenols and peptide compared with that between monomeric polyphenols and peptides. Thus, ESI-MS shows potential for the study of small polyphenolic molecule-peptide interactions and determination of stoichiometry.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.