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J Proteome Res. 2011 Jan 7;10(1):231-40. doi: 10.1021/pr1004289. Epub 2010 Nov 22.

Collision energy optimization of b- and y-ions for multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry.

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  • 1Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, Washington 98103, USA.

Abstract

Multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) is a highly sensitive and increasingly popular method of targeted mass spectrometry (MS) that can be used to selectively detect and quantify peptides and their corresponding proteins of interest within biological samples. The sensitivity of MRM-MS is highly dependent upon the tuning of transition-specific parameters, especially the collision energy (CE) applied during peptide fragmentation. Currently, empirical equations for CE work best for y-type ions and are much less effective for other types of transitions, such as b-type ions and small y-type transitions across particular amide bonds, which could also be useful for MRM-MS if optimized for maximum signal transmission. In this work, we have performed a CE optimization of all transitions for 80 doubly charged peptides, the results of which were used to define separate CE equations for b-ions and y-ions, as well as for small y-type ions derived from the fragmentation of amide bonds bounded on the amino-terminal side by aspartic or glutamic acid residues (D/E-X transitions). This analysis yielded four major observations: (1) b-ions tend to require lower collision energies than y-ions for optimal fragmentation, while D/E-X transitions tend to require more; (2) CE equations predict the optimal CEs more closely when product ion m/z dependence is included, in addition to the current standard of precursor ion m/z dependence; (3) separate CE equations for y-ions, b-ions, and D/E-X transitions are more effective than the previous one-size-fits-all equations, but best results are achieved by optimizing transitions individually; and (4) while b-ions gain substantial signal from CE optimization-often increases of several-fold-they still tend to rank lower than y-ions from the same peptide. These results confirm the notion that y-ions are usually the first-choice transitions for MRM experiments but also demonstrate, for the first time, that b-ions can be viable targets as well, if the proper collision energies are used.

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