Modeling the electrophoresis of peptides and proteins: improvements in the "bead method" to include ion relaxation and "finite size effects".
A bead model methodology developed in our lab (Xin et al. J. Phys. Chem. B 2006, 110, 1038) and applicable to modeling the free solution electrophoretic mobility of peptides and proteins is generalized in two significant ways. First, an approximate account is taken of the relaxation effect, which makes the methodology applicable to more highly charged peptides and proteins than was previously possible. Second, a more accurate account is taken of the finite size of the beads making up the model structure. This improvement makes the method applicable at higher salt concentrations and/or to models consisting of larger sized subunits. The relaxation effect is accounted for by correcting "unrelaxed" mobilities on the basis of model size and average electrostatic surface, or zeta potential. Correction factors are estimated using those of spheres with the same hydrodynamic radius and zeta potential as the model structure. The correction factors of spheres are readily determined. The more general methodology is first applied to two sets of peptides (74 different peptides total) varying in size from 2 to 42 amino acids. The sets also cover a wide range of net charges. It is shown that accounting for finite bead size results in a small change in model mobilities under the conditions of the experiments (35 mM monovalent salt). The correction for ion relaxation, however, can be significant for highly charged peptides and improves agreement between model and experimental mobilities. Our correction procedure is also tested by examining the electrophoretic mobility of a particular protein "charge ladder" (Carbeck et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1999, 121, 10,671), where the protein charge is varied over a wide range yet the conformation remains essentially constant. In summary, the effects of ion relaxation can be significant if the absolute electrophoretic mobility of a peptide exceeds approximately 0.20 cm2/(kV s).