Gas Phase Stability of Protein Ions in a Cyclic Ion Mobility Spectrometry Travelling Wave Device

Ion mobility mass spectrometry (IM-MS) allows separation of native protein ions into “conformational families”. Increasing the IM resolving power should allow finer structural information to be obtained, and can be achieved by increasing the length of the IM separator. This, however, increases the time that protein ions spend in the gas phase and previous experiments have shown that the initial conformations of small proteins can be lost within tens of milliseconds. Here, we report on investigations of protein ion stability using a multi-pass travelling wave (TW) cyclic IM (cIM) device. Using this device, minimal structural changes were observed for Cytochrome C after hundreds of milliseconds, while no changes were observed for a larger multimeric complex (Concanavalin A). The geometry of the instrument (Q-cIM-ToF) also enables complex tandem IM experiments to be performed which were used to obtain more detailed collision induced unfolding pathways for Cytochrome C. The novel instrument geometry provide unique capabilities with the potential to expand the field of protein analysis via IM-MS.