Cold Denaturation of Proteins in the Absence of Solvent: Implications for Protein Storage**

Emma L. Norgate, Rosie Upton, Kjetil Hansen, Bruno Bellina, C. Brookes, Argyris Politis, Perdita E. Barran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of temperature on the stability of proteins is well explored above 298 K, but harder to track experimentally below 273 K. Variable-temperature ion mobility mass spectrometry (VT IM-MS) allows us to measure the structure of molecules at sub-ambient temperatures. Here we monitor conformational changes that occur to two isotypes of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) on cooling by measuring their collision cross sections (CCS) at discrete drift gas temperatures from 295 to 160 K. The CCS at 250 K is larger than predicted from collisional theory and experimental data at 295 K. This restructure is attributed to change in the strength of stabilizing intermolecular interactions. Below 250 K the CCS of the mAbs increases in line with prediction implying no rearrangement. Comparing data from isotypes suggest disulfide bridging influences thermal structural rearrangement. These findings indicate that in vacuo deep-freezing minimizes denaturation and maintains the native fold and VT IM-MS measurements at sub ambient temperatures provide new insights to the phenomenon of cold denaturation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202115047
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2022


  • Cold Denaturation
  • Monoclonal Antibodies
  • Protein Folding
  • Structure–Activity Relationships
  • Variable-Temperature Ion Mobility


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