Structural characterization of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) has been a major challenge in the field of protein science due to limited capabilities to obtain full-length high-resolution structures. Native ESI-MS with top-down MS was utilized to obtain structural features of protein-ligand binding for the Parkinson's disease-related protein, α-synuclein (αSyn), which is natively unstructured. Binding of heavy metals has been implicated in the accelerated formation of αSyn aggregation. Using high-resolution Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FT-ICR) mass spectrometry, native top-down MS with various fragmentation methods, including electron capture dissociation (ECD), collisional activated dissociation (CAD), and multistage tandem MS (MS3), deduced the binding sites of cobalt and manganese to the C-terminal region of the protein. Ion mobility MS (IM-MS) revealed a collapse toward compacted states of αSyn upon metal binding. The combination of native top-down MS and IM-MS provides structural information of protein-ligand interactions for intrinsically disordered proteins. Graphical Abstract ᅟ.
Keywords: Electron capture dissociation; Electrospray ionization; Metal binding; Native mass spectrometry; Protein-ligand complex; Top-down mass spectrometry; α-Synuclein.