Investigation of Protein-Lipid Interactions Using Native Mass Spectrometry. Academic Article uri icon


  • Integral membrane proteins are embedded in biological membranes where various lipids modulate their structure and function. There exists a critical need to elucidate how these lipids participate in the physiological and pathological processes associated with the membrane protein dysfunction. Native mass spectrometry (MS), combined with ion mobility spectrometry (IM), is emerging as a powerful tool to probe membrane protein complexes and their interactions with ligands, lipids, and other small molecules. Unlike other biophysical approaches, native IM-MS can resolve individual ligand/lipid binding events. We have developed a novel method using native MS, coupled with a temperature-control apparatus, to determine the thermodynamic parameters of individual ligand or lipid binding events to proteins. This approach has been validated using several soluble protein-ligand systems wherein MS results are compared with those acquired from conventional biophysical techniques, such as isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR). Using these principles, it is possible to elucidate the thermodynamics of individual lipid binding to integral membrane proteins. Herein, we use the ammonia channel (AmtB) from Escherichia coli as a model membrane protein. Remarkably, distinct thermodynamic signatures for AmtB binding to lipids with different headgroups and acyl chain configurations are observed. Additionally, using a mutant form of AmtB that abolishes a specific lipid binding site, distinct changes have been discovered in the thermodynamic signatures compared with the wild-type, implying that these signatures can identify key residues involved in specific lipid binding and potentially differentiate between specific lipid binding sites. This chapter provides procedures and findings associated with temperature-controlled native MS as a novel approach to interrogate membrane proteins and their interactions with lipids and other molecules.

published proceedings

  • Methods Mol Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Cong, X., Patrick, J. W., Liu, Y., Liang, X., Liu, W., & Laganowsky, A.

publication date

  • October 2022