Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Lars Konermann


The question whether electrosprayed protein ions retain solution-like conformations remains a matter of debate. One way to address this issue involves comparisons of collision cross sections measured by travelling wave ion mobility spectrometry (TWIMS) with the values calculated for model structures. It is often implied that nanoESI is more conducive for the retention of solution structure than regular ESI. Focusing on four different proteins we demonstrated that collision cross section values and collisional unfolding profiles are virtually indistinguishable under both conditions. Calibration can be challenging because differences in the extent of collisional activation for TWIMS and drift tube calibrant data may lead to ambiguous peak assignments. We illustrated that these difficulties can be circumvented by employing collisionally heated calibrant ions. For interpreting experimental collision cross section values we generated gas phase model structures using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, instead of solely relying on crystallographic data. Overall, our data are consistent with the view that exposure of native proteins to electrospray conditions can generate kinetically trapped ions that retain solution-like structures on the millisecond time scale of IMS experiments.