Native Mass Spectrometry

Universal and sensitive determination of the quaternary organisation of macromolecular assemblies


Instruct has 2 centres offering Native Mass Spectrometry across Europe. Navigate the map and click on the pins to discover centres near you.

Bijvoet Center - UU
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Oxford Mass Spectrometry Centre
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Native Mass Spectrometry Details

Native mass spectrometry (MS) is a tool that allows the structural investigation of protein complexes. It will not provide a structural model in atomic detail, but the sensitivity, speed, selectivity, unlimited mass range and accuracy of the analysis provides important advantages over other techniques. It’s sensitivity allows the investigation of endogenous protein complexes, and another major benefit of the method is that it can simultaneously analyze several species in one spectrum. If there is a heterogeneous population of protein complexes present in one sample, the one of interest can be specifically isolated for further studies.

Within this research field electrospray ionization is the most popular technique to ionize the proteins/protein complexes of interest. It is a gentle ionization method allowing the preservation of quaternary protein structures. Normally the protein complex is sprayed from a volatile buffer, compatible with the electrospray process.

A range of mass spectrometric approaches can be applied to investigate the biological systems. The exact mass of proteins can be determined, but also the stoichiometry of an assembly, its stability, dynamical behavior, conformation, subunit interaction sites and topological arrangement of the individual proteins within a complex. 

User Guide

Instruct provides mass spectrometry infrastructure and expertise jointly between the Universities of Oxford and Utrecht. These centres provide access to cutting-edge mass spectrometers and organise regular training workshops.

Visits to the centre range from one day to a full week, depending on the complexity and number of experiments to be performed, and the experience of the visitor in MS. While mass spectrometry is applicable to almost any protein system, probably the single most important consideration is sample purity. To ensure a successful visit it is important to have tested the purity of the sample before visiting the centre.

A number of resources exist in the literature including protocols and background information providing the means for a visitor to aquaint themselves with the application of MS to structural biology.