Contributions of mass spectrometry to structural immunology

Contributions of mass spectrometry to structural immunology

Contributions of mass spectrometry to structural immunology

Abstract

Mass spectrometry has made important contributions to the field of immunology in the past decade. A variety of mass spectrometric-based techniques have been applied to study the structures of macromolecules that play a vital role in the immune response. These include traditional molecular mass measurements to identify post-translational modifications and structural heterogeneity, mass mapping of proteolysis products, sequencing by tandem mass spectrometry and conformational analysis. Antigen-antibody and other immune complexes have been detected by mass spectrometry, providing an avenue to study macromolecular assemblies that are important to immune function. By virtue of the ability of mass spectrometry based techniques to analyze complex biological mixtures, mass spectrometry has also been employed to identify and sequence protein epitopes important in both the humoral and cellular immune responses. This has been achieved through a combination of immunoaffinity and mass spectrometric techniques, and the coupling of high-performance chromatographs to mass spectrometers. These approaches are important for the identification of pathogens and show promise for the early diagnosis of disease associated with viral and bacterial infection and malignancy. These investigations will enable the mechanisms associated with normal and impaired immune function to be elucidated. Mass spectrometry has been utilized to characterize the structure of peptide mimics, multiple antigenic peptides and other constructs in the design of synthetic immunogens. Information derived from these studies will aid in the development of novel therapeutics and vaccines.

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