Department of chemistry
The University of British Columbia
Faculty in University of British Columbia
The last few decades have seen dramatic growth of mass spectrometry into new application areas. Most notable among these have been the applications to biomolecules, particularly peptides and proteins. Research in this group centers on the development of new techniques in mass spectrometry and new instrumentation and for such applications. Electrospray ionization sources can produce gas-phase ions of proteins at atmospheric pressure directly from proteins in solution. The ionization process is sufficiently gentle that proteins up to a molecular weight of at least 500,000 can be ionized. In many cases noncovalent complexes between proteins and other proteins, or between proteins and small molecules, can be observed in mass spectra. Little is known about the structure of these gas-phase ions or complexes. Research here is directed towards new methods and new instrumentation to study the structures of these ions and to determine the relationships of these structures, if any, to those of proteins in solution. Collision cross sections are measured to give an estimate of ion "size". Gas-phase hydrogen/deuterium exchange is used to probe protein conformation, and tandem mass spectrometry is used to determine relative binding strengths of gas-phase noncovalent complexes. This work is done in collaboration with protein chemists in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Biochemistry at UBC.