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Current Trends in Biotherapeutic Higher Order Structure Characterization by Irreversible Covalent Footprinting Mass Spectrometry

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Background: Biotherapeutics, particularly monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), are a maturing class of drugs capable of treating a wide range of diseases. Therapeutic function and solutionstability are linked to the proper three-dimensional organization of the primary sequence into Higher Order Structure (HOS) as well as the timescales of protein motions (dynamics). Methods that directly monitor protein HOS and dynamics are important for mapping therapeutically relevant protein-protein interactions and assessing properly folded structures. Irreversible covalent protein footprinting Mass Spectrometry (MS) tools, such as site-specific amino acid labeling and hydroxyl radical footprinting are analytical techniques capable of monitoring the side chain solvent accessibility influenced by tertiary and quaternary structure. Here we discuss the methodology, examples of biotherapeutic applications, and the future directions of irreversible covalent protein footprinting MS in biotherapeutic research and development.

Conclusion: Bottom-up mass spectrometry using irreversible labeling techniques provide valuable information for characterizing solution-phase protein structure. Examples range from epitope mapping and protein-ligand interactions, to probing challenging structures of membrane proteins. By paring these techniques with hydrogen-deuterium exchange, spectroscopic analysis, or static-phase structural data such as crystallography or electron microscopy, a comprehensive understanding of protein structure can be obtained.

Keywords: Structural mass spectrometry; biotherapeutics; covalent labeling; higher order structure; hydroxyl radical footprinting; protein footprinting

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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