Conformational analysis of large and highly disulfide-stabilized proteins by integrating online electrochemical reduction into an optimized H/D exchange mass spectrometry workflow

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Analysis of disulfide-bonded proteins by HDX-MS requires effective and rapid reduction of disulfide bonds before enzymatic digestion in order to increase sequence coverage. In a conventional HDX-MS workflow, disulfide bonds are reduced chemically by addition of a reducing agent to the quench solution (e.g. TCEP). The chemical reduction, however, is severely limited under quenched conditions due to a narrow time window as well as low pH and temperature. Here, we demonstrate the real-world applicability of integrating electrochemical reduction into an online HDX-MS workflow. We have optimized the electrochemical reduction efficiency during HDX-MS analysis of two particularly challenging disulfide stabilized proteins: a therapeutic IgG1-antibody and Nerve Growth Factor-β (NGF). Several different parameters (flow rate, applied square wave potential as well as the type of labeling- and quench buffer) were investigated, and the optimized workflow increased the sequence coverage of NGF from 46% with chemical reduction to 99%, when electrochemical reduction was applied. Additionally, the optimized workflow also enabled a similar high sequence coverage of 96% and 87% for the heavy and light chain of the IgG1-antibody, respectively. The presented results demonstrate the successful electrochemical reduction during HDX-MS analysis of both a small exceptional tightly disulfide-bonded protein (NGF) as well as the largest protein attempted to date (IgG1-antibody). We envision that online electrochemical reduction is poised to decrease the complexity of sample handling and increase the versatility of the HDX-MS technique.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number17
Pages (from-to) 8880–8888
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2015

ID: 142475354