Metal-induced conformational changes of human metallothionein-2A: a combined theoretical and experimental study of metal-free and partially metalated intermediates. Academic Article uri icon


  • Electrospray ionization ion mobility mass spectrometry (ESI IM-MS) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations reveal new insights into metal-induced conformational changes and the mechanism for metalation of human metallothionein-2A (MT), an intrinsically disordered protein. ESI of solutions containing apoMT yields multiple charge states of apoMT; following addition of Cd(2+) to the solution, ESI yields a range of CdiMT (i = 1-7) product ions (see Chen et al. Anal. Chem. 2013, 85, 7826-33). Ion mobility arrival-time distributions (ATDs) for the CdiMT (i = 0-7) ions reveal a diverse population of ion conformations. The ion mobility data clearly show that the conformational diversity for apoMT and partially metalated ions converges toward ordered, compact conformations as the number of bound Cd(2+) ions increase. MD simulations provide additional information on conformation candidates of CdiMT (i = 0-7) that supports the convergence of distinct conformational populations upon metal binding. Integrating the IM-MS and MD data provides a global view that shows stepwise conformational transition of an ensemble as a function of metal ion bound. ApoMT is comprised of a wide range of conformational states that populate between globular-like compact and coil-rich extended conformations. During the initial stepwise metal addition (number of metal ions bound i = 1-3), the metal ions bind to different sites to yield distinct conformations, whereas for i > 4, the conformational changes appear to be domain-specific, attributed to different degrees of disorder of the domain; the domain becomes more ordered as additional metal ions are added, promoting convergences to the dumbbell-shaped conformation.

published proceedings

  • J Am Chem Soc

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Chen, S., Chen, L., & Russell, D. H.

citation count

  • 63

complete list of authors

  • Chen, Shu-Hua||Chen, Liuxi||Russell, David H

publication date

  • July 2014