Hydrogen exchange mass spectrometry for the analysis of protein dynamics

Mass Spectrom Rev. 2006 Jan-Feb;25(1):158-70. doi: 10.1002/mas.20064.


Hydrogen exchange coupled to mass spectrometry (MS) has become a valuable analytical tool for the study of protein dynamics. By combining information about protein dynamics with more classical functional data, a more thorough understanding of protein function can be obtained. In many cases, protein dynamics are directly related to specific protein functions such as conformational changes during enzyme activation or protein movements during binding. The method is made possible because labile backbone hydrogens in a protein will exchange with deuterium atoms when the protein is placed in a D2O solution. The subsequent increase in protein mass over time is measured with high-resolution MS. The location of the deuterium incorporation is determined by monitoring deuterium incorporation in peptic fragments that are produced after the labeling reaction. In this review, we will summarize the general principles of the method, discuss the latest variations on the experimental protocol that probe different types of protein movements, and review other recent work and improvements in the field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Deuterium / chemistry*
  • Deuterium Exchange Measurement*
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*


  • Proteins
  • Deuterium