We examine a gas-phase approach for converting a subset of amino acid residues in polypeptide cations to dehydroalanine (Dha). Subsequent activation of the modified polypeptide ions gives rise to specific cleavage N-terminal to the Dha residue. This process allows for the incorporation of selective cleavages in the structural characterization of polypeptide ions. An ion/ion reaction within the mass spectrometer between a multiply protonated polypeptide and the sulfate radical anion introduces a radical site into the multiply protonated polypeptide reactant. Subsequent collisional activation of the polypeptide radical cation gives rise to radical side chain loss from one of several particular amino acid side chains (e.g., leucine, asparagine, lysine, glutamine, and glutamic acid) to yield a Dha residue. The Dha residues facilitate preferential backbone cleavages to produce signature c- and z-ions, demonstrated with cations derived from melittin, mechano growth factor (MGF), and ubiquitin. The efficiencies for radical side chain loss and for subsequent generation of specific c- and z-ions have been examined as functions of precursor ion charge state and activation conditions using cations of ubiquitin as a model for a small protein. It is noted that these efficiencies are not strongly dependent on ion trap collisional activation conditions but are sensitive to precursor ion charge state. Moderate to low charge states show the greatest overall yields for the specific Dha cleavages, whereas small molecule losses (e.g., water/ammonia) dominate at the lowest charge states and proton catalyzed amide bond cleavages that give rise to b- and y-ions tend to dominate at high charge states.
Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry – Springer Journals
Published: May 11, 2017
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