The Gramicidin Dimer Shows Both EX1 and EX2 Mechanisms of H/D Exchange

Raghu K. Chitta, Don L. Rempel, Michael L. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We describe the use of H/D amide exchange and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry to study, in organic solvents, the pentadecapeptide gramicidin as a model for protein self association. In methanol-OD, all active H's in the peptide exchange for D within 5 min, indicating a monomer/dimer equilibrium that is shifted towards the fast-exchanging monomer. H/D exchange in n-propanol-OD, however, showed a partially protected gramicidin that slowly converts to a second species that exchanges nearly all the active hydrogens, indicating EX1 kinetics for the H/D exchange. We propose that this behavior is the result of the slower rate of unfolding in n-propanol compared with that in methanol. The rate constant for the unfolding of the dimer is the rate of disappearance of the partially protected species, and it agrees within a factor of two with a value reported in literature. The rate constant of dimer refolding can be determined from the ratio of the rate constant for unfolding and the affinity constant for the dimer, which we determined in an earlier study. The unfolding activation energy is 20 kcal mol-1, determined by performing the exchange experiments as a function of temperature. To study gramicidin in an even more hydrophobic medium than n-propanol, we measured its H/D exchange kinetics in a phospholipids vesicle and found a different H/D amide exchange behavior. Gramicidin is an unusual peptide dimer that can exhibit both EX1 and EX2 mechanisms for its H/D exchange, depending on the solvent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1813-1820
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


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