Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Stephen J Valentine

Committee Co-Chair

Paul A Cassak

Committee Member

Harry O Finklea

Committee Member

Glen P Jackson

Committee Member

John B Mertz


Protein and peptide gas-phase structure analysis provides the opportunity to study these species outside of their explicit environment where the interaction network with surrounding molecules makes the analysis difficult [1]. Although gas-phase structure analysis offers a unique opportunity to study the intrinsic behavior of these biomolecules [2-4], proteins and peptides exhibit very low vapor pressures [2]. Peptide and protein ions can be rendered in the gas-phase using electrospray ionization (ESI) [5]. There is a growing body of literature that shows proteins and peptides can maintain solution structures during the process of ESI and these structures can persist for a few hundred milliseconds [6-9].;Techniques for monitoring gas-phase protein and peptide ion structures are categorized as physical probes and chemical probes. Collision cross section (CCS) measurement, being a physical probe, is a powerful method to investigate gas-phase structure size [3, 7, 10-15]; however, CCS values alone do not establish a one to one relation with structure(i.e., the CCS value is an orientationally averaged value [15-18]. Here we propose the utility of gas-phase hydrogen deuterium exchange (HDX) as a second criterion of structure elucidation. The proposed approach incudes extensive MD simulations to sample biomolecular ion conformation space with the production of numerous, random in-silico structures. Subsequently a CCS can be calculated for these structures and theoretical CCS values are compared with experimental values to produce a pool of candidate structures. Utilizing a chemical reaction model based on the gas-phase HDX mechanism, the HDX kinetics behavior of these candidate structures are predicted and compared to experimental results to nominate the best in-silico structures which match (chemically and physically) with experimental observations.;For the predictive approach to succeed, an extensive technique and method development is essential. To combine CCS measurements and gas-phase HDX studies at the amino acid residue level, for the first time a drift tube is connected to a linear ion trap (LIT) with electron transfer dissociation (ETD) capability[19, 20]. In this manner CCS and per-residue deuterium uptake measurements for a model peptide carried out successfully[19]. In this study, the gas-phase conformations of electrosprayed ions of the model peptide KKDDDDIIKIIK have been examined. Using ion structures obtained from molecular dynamics (MD) simulation and considering charge-site/exchange-site density the level of the maximum total deuterium uptake for the gas-phase ions is explained. Also a new hydrogen accessibility scoring (HAS) model that includes two distance calculations (charge site to carbonyl group and carbonyl group to exchange site) is applied to the in-silico structures to describe the expected HDX behavior for these structures. Further investigation to improve the accuracy of the model is accomplished by a "per-residue" HDX kinetics study of the model peptide [21]. In this study, the ion residence time and the deuterium uptake of each residue is measured at different partial pressures of D2O. Subsequently the contribution each residue to the overall HDX rate of the intact peptide ion is calculated. These rate contributions of the residues exhibit a better fit to HAS than their maximum deuterium uptake.;Proteins and peptides with very frequent acidic residue in their sequence provide very poor signal levels when employing positive polarity ESI. Also, the comparison of protonated and deprotonated ions of these biomolecules offers the potential to provide a better structural characterization [22]. Per-residue deuterium uptake values resulting from collision-induced dissociation (CID) of the model peptide KKDDDDIIKIIK were used to investigated the degree of hydrogen deuterium scrambling for deprotonated ions [23]. Remarkably, limited isotopic scrambling was observed in this study of this small model peptide. This data and the per-residue deuterium uptake of the triply-protonated model peptide Acetyl-PAAAAKAAAAKAAAAKAAAAK are exploited to propose a lemma to allocate protonation and deprotonation sites for peptide ions in the gas-phase. Insulin ions, as a small protein model system, are examined to investigate the relation of the maximum deuterium uptake value for each insulin chain to the exposed surface area of each insulin subunit [22]. The results show that the methodology can be applied on the protein complexes to provide information about the exposed surface area of each subunit.