On-line sample clean-up and chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry to characterize the primary sequence and disulfide bond content of recombinant calcium binding proteins

Kenneth L. Johnson, Timothy D. Veenstra, James M. Londowski, Andy J. Tomlinson, Rajiv Kumar, Stephen Naylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


We have used on-line sample clean-up, concentration, and chromatography with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), to characterize and determine the presence of disulfide bonds in recombinant full-length rat brain calbindin D(28K) and two deletion mutants of the protein, one lacking EF-hand 2 (calbindin Δ2) and the other lacking EF-hands 2 and 6 (calbindin Δ2,6). The molecular weights of the expressed proteins dissolved in biological buffers were determined with high accuracy using a low-flow, pressurized chamber infusion system, that allows on-line protein clean-up by removing buffers/salts incompatible with ESI-MS. The molecular weight determinations showed that the amino-terminal methionine residues had been cleaved during the expression and isolation of the recombinant proteins. Approximately 85-90% of the protein sequences were confirmed by on-line HPLC-ESI-MS analysis of peptides generated by a lysyl endoproteinase C digestion. Comparisons of ESI-MS spectra of native and reduced calbindin D(28K) and Δ2 show that the full length- and Δ2 mutant-protein contain one disulfide bond. Molecular mass determinations of calbindin Δ2,6 showed that this protein contains a highly active cysteine residue that covalently binds a mercaptoethanol group, or forms a homodimer via a disulfide bond. The results show surprising differences amongst the deletion mutants of calbindin D(28K) with respect to the formation of disulfide bonds. These differences are not readily detected by other techniques and show that ESI-MS is a powerful, rapid method by which to detect disulfide linkages for intact proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalBiomedical Chromatography
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology

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