This paper describes a convenient screening method using ion trap electrospray ionization mass spectrometry to classify ligands to a target molecule in terms of kinetic parameters. We demonstrate this method in the screening of ligands to a hexahistidine tag from a pooled library synthesized by click chemistry. The ion trap mass spectrometry analysis revealed that higher stabilities of ligand-target complexes in the gas phase were related to lower dissociation rate constants, i.e., off-rates in solution. Finally, we prepared a fluorescent probe utilizing the ligand with lowest off-rate and succeeded in performing single molecule observations of hexahistidine-tagged myosin V walking on actin filaments.
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