Evaluating Mass Spectrometry-Based Hydroxyl Radical Protein Footprinting of a Benchtop Flash Oxidation System against a Synchrotron X-ray Beamline

Rohit Jain, Nanak S. Dhillon, Vijaya Lakshmi Kanchustambham, David T. Lodowski, Erik R. Farquhar, Janna Kiselar, Mark R. Chance; J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom; February 9, 2024 

Hydroxyl radical protein footprinting (HRPF) using synchrotron X-ray radiation (XFP) and mass spectrometry is a well-validated structural biology method that provides critical insights into macromolecular structural dynamics, such as determining binding sites, measuring affinity, and mapping epitopes. Numerous alternative sources for generating the hydroxyl radicals (•OH) needed for HRPF, such as laser photolysis and plasma irradiation, complement synchrotron-based HRPF, and a recently developed commercially available instrument based on flash lamp photolysis, the FOX system, enables access to laboratory benchtop HRPF. Here, we evaluate performing HRPF experiments in-house with a benchtop FOX instrument compared to synchrotron-based X-ray footprinting at the NSLS-II XFP beamline. Using lactate oxidase (LOx) as a model system, we carried out •OH labeling experiments using both instruments, followed by nanoLC-MS/MS bottom-up peptide mass mapping. Experiments were performed under high glucose concentrations to mimic the highly scavenging conditions present in biological buffers and human clinical samples, where less •OH are available for reaction with the biomolecule(s) of interest. The performance of the FOX and XFP HRPF methods was compared, and we found that tuning the •OH dosage enabled optimal labeling coverage for both setups under physiologically relevant highly scavenging conditions. Our study demonstrates the complementarity of FOX and XFP labeling approaches, demonstrating that benchtop instruments such as the FOX photolysis system can increase both the throughput and the accessibility of the HRPF technique.