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Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2008 Apr;22(7):965-72. doi: 10.1002/rcm.3451.

Chemical derivatization of peptides containing phosphorylated serine/threonine for efficient ionization and quantification in matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

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Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Musashino University, Shinmachi, Nishitokyo-shi, Tokyo 202-8585, Japan.


We describe a useful method for the efficient ionization and relative quantification of peptides containing serine/threonine phosphorylation sites. This method is based on beta-elimination of the phosphate group from serine/threonine phosphorylation sites under alkaline conditions, followed by Michael addition reaction with N-(2-mercaptoethyl)-6-methylnicotinamide (MEMN). As a result of the derivatization reaction, the negatively charged phosphate group is substituted with the nicotinoyl moiety to improve the ionization efficiency of the derivatized peptide. The combination of d(3)-labeled MEMN (d(3)-MEMN) and MEMN (d(0)-MEMN) generates a 3 Da mass difference between d(3)-MEMN-labeled and d(0)-MEMN-labeled peptides, which is a useful signature for the identification of peptides containing serine/threonine phosphorylation sites in the matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrum. Moreover, the mass difference is useful for the quantitative analysis of serine/threonine phosphorylation in proteins. In this paper, we describe the synthesis of d(0)/d(3)-labeled MEMN and an application of our approach to model peptides and proteins.

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