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  1. Decavanadate (V 10 O 28 6− or V10) is a paradigmatic member of the polyoxidometalate (POM) family, which has been attracting much attention within both materials/inorganic and biomedical communities due to its unique structural and electrochemical properties. In this work we explored the utility of high-resolution electrospray ionization (ESI) mass spectrometry (MS) and ion exclusion chromatography LC/MS for structural analysis of V10 species in aqueous solutions. While ESI generates abundant molecular ions representing the intact V10 species, their isotopic distributions show significant deviations from the theoretical ones. A combination of high-resolution MS measurements and hydrogen/deuterium exchange allows these deviations to be investigated and interpreted as a result of partial reduction of V10. While the redox processes are known to occur in the ESI interface and influence the oxidation state of redox-active analytes, the LC/MS measurements using ion exclusion chromatography provide unequivocal evidence that the mixed-valence V10 species exist in solution, as extracted ion chromatograms representing V10 molecular ions at different oxidation states exhibit distinct elution profiles. The spontaneous reduction of V10 in solution is seen even in the presence of hydrogen peroxide and has not been previously observed. The susceptibility to reduction of V10 is likely to be shared by other redox active POMs. In addition to the molecular V10 ions, a high-abundance ionic signal for a V 10 O 26 2− anion was displayed in the negative-ion ESI mass spectra. None of the V 10 O 26 cations were detected in ESI MS, and only a low-abundance signal was observed for V 10 O 26 anions with a single negative charge, indicating that the presence of abundant V 10 O 26 2− anions in ESI MS reflects gas-phase instability of V 10 O 28 anions carrying two charges. The gas-phase origin of the V 10 O 26 2− anion was confirmed in tandem MS measurements, where mild collisional activation was applied to V10 molecular ions with an even number of hydrogen atoms (H 4 V 10 O 28 2− ), resulting in a facile loss of H 2 O molecules and giving rise to V 10 O 26 2− as the lowest-mass fragment ion. Water loss was also observed for V 10 O 28 anions carrying an odd number of hydrogen atoms ( e.g. , H 5 V 10 O 28 − ), followed by a less efficient and incomplete removal of an OH˙ radical, giving rise to both HV 10 O 26 − and V 10 O 25 − fragment ions. Importantly, at least one hydrogen atom was required for ion fragmentation in the gas phase, as no further dissociation was observed for any hydrogen-free V10 ionic species. The presented workflow allows a distinction to be readily made between the spectral features revealing the presence of non-canonical POM species in the bulk solution from those that arise due to physical and chemical processes occurring in the ESI interface and/or the gas phase. 
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  2. Garcia Fruitós, E. ; Arís Giralt, A. (Ed.)
    Characterization of soluble protein aggregates provides valuable information for revealing mechanisms of protein aggregation process and assessing the activity and safety of protein therapeutics. However, the noncovalent interaction, the transient nature and higher degree of structural heterogeneity of the soluble aggregation system hinders precise characterization at the molecular level. Here, we describe methods using native mass spectrometry coupled with temperature-control electrospray ionization and size-exclusion chromatography to monitor the aggregation process and profile the aggregates in detail. 
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  3. Ovalbumin (OVA), one of the major allergens in hen egg, exhibits extensive structural heterogeneity due to a range of post-translational modifications (PTMs). However, analyzing the structural heterogeneity of native OVA is challenging, and the relationship between heterogeneity and IgG/IgE-binding of OVA remains unclear. In this work, ion exchange chromatography (IXC) with salt gradient elution and on-line detection by native electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI MS) was used to assess the structural heterogeneity of OVA, while inhibition-ELISA was used to assess the IgG/IgE binding characteristics of OVA. Over 130 different OVA proteoforms (including glycan-free species and 32 pairs of isobaric species) were identified. Proteoforms with acetylation, phosphorylation, oxidation and succinimide modifications had reduced IgG/IgE binding capacities, whereas those with few structural modifications had higher IgG/IgE binding capacities. OVA isoforms with a sialic acid-containing glycan modification had the highest IgG/IgE binding capacity. Our results demonstrate that on-line native IXC/MS with salt gradient elution can be used for rapid assessment of the structural heterogeneity of proteins. An improved understanding of the relationship between IgG/IgE binding capacity and OVA structure provides a basis for developing biotechnology or food processing methods for reducing protein allergenicity reduction. 
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