Protein-amide proton hydrogen-deuterium exchange (HDX) is used to investigate protein conformation, conformational changes and surface binding sites for other molecules. To our knowledge, software tools to automate data processing and analysis from sample fractionating (LC-MALDI) mass-spectrometry-based HDX workflows are not publicly available.
An integrated data pipeline (Solvent Explorer/TOF2H) has been developed for the processing of LC-MALDI-derived HDX data. Based on an experiment-wide template, and taking an ab initio approach to chromatographic and spectral peak finding, initial data processing is based on accurate mass-matching to fully deisotoped peaklists accommodating, in MS/MS-confirmed peptide library searches, ambiguous mass-hits to non-target proteins. Isotope-shift re-interrogation of library search results allows quick assessment of the extent of deuteration from peaklist data alone. During raw spectrum editing, each spectral segment is validated in real time, consistent with the manageable spectral numbers resulting from LC-MALDI experiments. A semi-automated spectral-segment editor includes a semi-automated or automated assessment of the quality of all spectral segments as they are pooled across an XIC peak for summing, centroid mass determination, building of rates plots on-the-fly, and automated back exchange correction. The resulting deuterium uptake rates plots from various experiments can be averaged, subtracted, re-scaled, error-barred, and/or scatter-plotted from individual spectral segment centroids, compared to solvent exposure and hydrogen bonding predictions and receive a color suggestion for 3D visualization. This software lends itself to a "divorced" HDX approach in which MS/MS-confirmed peptide libraries are built via nano or standard ESI without source modification, and HDX is performed via LC-MALDI using a standard MALDI-TOF. The complete TOF2H package includes additional (eg LC analysis) modules.
"TOF2H" provides a comprehensive HDX data analysis package that has accelerated the processing of LC-MALDI-based HDX data in the authors' lab from weeks to hours. It runs in a standard MS Windows (XP or Vista) environment, and can be downloaded or obtained from the authors at no cost.