Simultaneous measurement of protein size and mass
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Native ion mobility mass spectrometry (IMMS), is a rather new tool in structural biology. Complementary to the separation of the ions based on mass, they are also separated according to their physical size. Typically, ions with a larger cross section (volume) exhibit longer drift times in the gas-filled ion mobility chamber. Therefore, IMMS can reveal direct information regarding the shape and conformation of a protein complex. Up to now several IMMS studies have indicated that solution phase structures are often largely retained in the gas-phase, making this method potentially a valuable new tool in structural biology. The size measurements of the ions obtained by IMMS can then be used with computational modeling to generate refined structural models for the protein complex in question.