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Anal Chem. 1997 Mar 15;69(6):1119-26.

Effects of charge state on fragmentation pathways, dynamics, and activation energies of ubiquitin ions measured by blackbody infrared radiative dissociation.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


Blackbody infrared radiative dissociation spectra of the (M + 5H)5+ through (M + 11H)11+ ions of the protein ubiquitin (8.6 kDa) formed by electrospray ionization were measured in a Fourier-transform mass spectrometer. The 5+ ion dissociates exclusively by loss of water and/or ammonia, whereas the 11+ charge state dissociates only by formation of complementary y and b ions. These two processes are competitive for intermediate charge state ions, with the formation of y and b ions increasingly favored for the higher charge states. The y and b ions are formed by cleavage of the backbone amide bond on the C-terminal side of acidic residues exclusively, with cleavage adjacent to aspartic acid favored. Thermal unimolecular dissociation rate constants for the dissociation of each of these charge states were measured. From the temperature dependence of these rates, Arrhenius activation parameters in the rapid energy exchange limit are obtained. The activation energies (Ea) and preexponential factors (A) for the 5+, 8+, and 9+ ions are 1.2 eV and 10(12) s-1, respectively. These values for the 6+ and 7+ ions are 0.9-1.0 eV and 10(9) s-1, and those for the 10+ and 11+ ions are 1.6 eV and 10(16)-10(17) s-1. Thus, with the exception of the 5+ ion, the higher charge states of ubiquitin have larger dissociation activation energies than the lower charge states. The different A factors observed for production of y and b ions from different precursor charge states indicate that they are formed by different mechanisms, ranging from relatively complex rearrangements to direct bond cleavages. These results clearly demonstrate that the relative dissociation rates of large biomolecule ions by themselves are not necessarily a reliable indicator of their relative dissociation energies, even when similar fragment ions are formed.

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