Rapid Online Buffer Exchange: A Method for Screening of Proteins, Protein Complexes, and Cell Lysates by Native Mass Spectrometry

It is important to assess the identity and purity of proteins and protein complexes during and after protein purification to ensure that samples are of sufficient quality for further biochemical and structural characterization, as well as for use in consumer products, chemical processes, and therapeutics. Native mass spectrometry (nMS) has become an important tool in protein analysis due to its ability to retain non-covalent interactions during measurements, making it possible to obtain protein structural information with high sensitivity and at high speed. Interferences from the presence of non-volatiles are typically alleviated by offline buffer exchange, which is timeconsuming and difficult to automate. We provide a protocol for rapid online buffer exchange (OBE) nMS to directly screen structural features of pre-purified proteins, protein complexes, or clarified cell lysates. Information obtained by OBE nMS can be used for fast (<5 min) quality control and can further guide protein expression and purification optimization.