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The cellular processes underpinning life are orchestrated by proteins and their interactions. The associated structural and dynamic heterogeneity, despite being key to function, poses a fundamental challenge to existing analytical and structural methodologies. We used interferometric scattering microscopy to quantify the mass of single biomolecules in solution with 2% sequence mass accuracy, up to 19-kilodalton resolution, and 1-kilodalton precision. We resolved oligomeric distributions at high dynamic range, detected small-molecule binding, and mass-imaged proteins with associated lipids and sugars. These capabilities enabled us to characterize the molecular dynamics of processes as diverse as glycoprotein cross-linking, amyloidogenic protein aggregation, and actin polymerization. Interferometric scattering mass spectrometry allows spatiotemporally resolved measurement of a broad range of biomolecular interactions, one molecule at a time.

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I’m always happy when a new analytical technique is worked out, especially one that’s applicable to biological binding assays, doesn’t require labeling of the species involved, and is orthogonal to the existing methods. We need all the reality...