An overview of hydrogen deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) in drug discovery

Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2017 Oct;12(10):981-994. doi: 10.1080/17460441.2017.1363734. Epub 2017 Aug 17.


Hydrogen deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) is a powerful methodology to study protein dynamics, protein folding, protein-protein interactions, and protein small molecule interactions. The development of novel methodologies and technical advancements in mass spectrometers has greatly expanded the accessibility and acceptance of this technique within both academia and industry. Areas covered: This review examines the theoretical basis of how amide exchange occurs, how different mass spectrometer approaches can be used for HDX-MS experiments, as well as the use of HDX-MS in drug development, specifically focusing on how HDX-MS is used to characterize bio-therapeutics, and its use in examining protein-protein and protein small molecule interactions. Expert opinion: HDX-MS has been widely accepted within the pharmaceutical industry for the characterization of bio-therapeutics as well as in the mapping of antibody drug epitopes. However, there is room for this technique to be more widely used in the drug discovery process. This is particularly true in the use of HDX-MS as a complement to other high-resolution structural approaches, as well as in the development of small molecule therapeutics that can target both active-site and allosteric binding sites.

Keywords: HDX; HDX-MS; Hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry; allostery; bio-therapeutics; drug development; epitope mapping; hydrogen deuterium exchange; protein dynamics.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Site
  • Binding Sites
  • Deuterium Exchange Measurement / methods*
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Drug Industry / methods
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Protein Folding
  • Proteins / metabolism


  • Proteins