Quantitative mass imaging of single biological macromolecules

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Abstract

The cellular processes underpinning life are orchestrated by proteins and their interactions. The associated structural and dynamic heterogeneity, despite being key to function, poses a fundamental challenge to existing analytical and structural methodologies. We used interferometric scattering microscopy to quantify the mass of single biomolecules in solution with 2% sequence mass accuracy, up to 19-kilodalton resolution, and 1-kilodalton precision. We resolved oligomeric distributions at high dynamic range, detected small-molecule binding, and mass-imaged proteins with associated lipids and sugars. These capabilities enabled us to characterize the molecular dynamics of processes as diverse as glycoprotein cross-linking, amyloidogenic protein aggregation, and actin polymerization. Interferometric scattering mass spectrometry allows spatiotemporally resolved measurement of a broad range of biomolecular interactions, one molecule at a time.

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