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Methods. 2005 Mar;35(3):211-22. Epub 2005 Jan 20.

Mass spectrometry of peptides and proteins.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721-0041, USA.


This tutorial article introduces mass spectrometry (MS) for peptide fragmentation and protein identification. The current approaches being used for protein identification include top-down and bottom-up sequencing. Top-down sequencing, a relatively new approach that involves fragmenting intact proteins directly, is briefly introduced. Bottom-up sequencing, a traditional approach that fragments peptides in the gas phase after protein digestion, is discussed in more detail. The most widely used ion activation and dissociation process, gas-phase collision-activated dissociation (CAD), is discussed from a practical point of view. Infrared multiphoton dissociation (IRMPD) and electron capture dissociation (ECD) are introduced as two alternative dissociation methods. For spectral interpretation, the common fragment ion types in peptide fragmentation and their structures are introduced; the influence of instrumental methods on the fragmentation pathways and final spectra are discussed. A discussion is also provided on the complications in sample preparation for MS analysis. The final section of this article provides a brief review of recent research efforts on different algorithmic approaches being developed to improve protein identification searches.

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