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    ABSTRACT: Since the 1950s, X-ray crystallography has been the mainstay of structural biology, providing detailed atomic-level structures that continue to revolutionize our understanding of protein function. From recent advances in this discipline, a picture has emerged of intimate and specific interactions between lipids and proteins that has driven renewed interest in the structure of lipids themselves and raised intriguing questions as to the specificity and stoichiometry in lipid-protein complexes. Herein we demonstrate some of the limitations of crystallography in resolving critical structural features of ligated lipids and thus determining how these motifs impact protein binding. As a consequence, mass spectrometry must play an important and complementary role in unraveling the complexities of lipid-protein interactions. We evaluate recent advances and highlight ongoing challenges towards the twin goals of (1) complete structure elucidation of low, abundant, and structurally diverse lipids by mass spectrometry alone, and (2) assignment of stoichiometry and specificity of lipid interactions within protein complexes.
    Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 06/2012; 23(9):1441-9. · 3.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Untargeted metabolomics provides a comprehensive platform for identifying metabolites whose levels are altered between two or more populations. By using liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-Q-TOF-MS), hundreds to thousands of peaks with a unique m/z ratio and retention time are routinely detected from most biological samples in an untargeted profiling experiment. Each peak, termed a metabolomic feature, can be characterized on the basis of its accurate mass, retention time and tandem mass spectral fragmentation pattern. Here a seven-step protocol is suggested for such a characterization by using the METLIN metabolite database. The protocol starts from untargeted metabolomic LC-Q-TOF-MS data that have been analyzed with the bioinformatics program XCMS, and it describes a strategy for selecting interesting features as well as performing subsequent targeted tandem MS. The seven steps described will require 2-4 h to complete per feature, depending on the compound.
    Nature Protocol 02/2013; 8(3):451-60. · 8.36 Impact Factor

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