Peptide-column interactions and their influence on back exchange rates in hydrogen/deuterium exchange-MS
Hydrogen/deuterium exchange (HDX) methods generate useful information on protein structure and dynamics, ideally at the individual residue level. Most MS-based HDX methods involve a rapid proteolytic digestion followed by LC/MS analysis, with exchange kinetics monitored at the peptide level. Localizing specific sites of HDX is usually restricted to a resolution the size of the host peptide because gas-phase processes can scramble deuterium throughout the peptide. Subtractive methods may improve resolution, where deuterium levels of overlapping and nested peptides are used in a subtractive manner to localize exchange to smaller segments. In this study, we explore the underlying assumption of the subtractive method, namely, that the measured back exchange kinetics of a given residue is independent of its host peptide. Using a series of deuterated peptides, we show that secondary structure can be partially retained under quenched conditions, and that interactions between peptides and reversed-phase LC columns may both accelerate and decelerate residue HDX, depending upon peptide sequence and length. Secondary structure is induced through column interactions in peptides with a solution-phase propensity for structure, which has the effect of slowing HDX rates relative to predicted random coil values. Conversely, column interactions can orient random-coil peptide conformers to accelerate HDX, the degree to which correlates with peptide charge in solution, and which can be reversed by using stronger ion pairing reagents. The dependency of these effects on sequence and length suggest that subtractive methods for improving structural resolution in HDX-MS will not offer a straightforward solution for increasing exchange site resolution.