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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2010 Apr;21(4):511-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jasms.2009.12.021. Epub 2010 Jan 11.

Fragmentation of alpha-radical cations of arginine-containing peptides.

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Chemical and Materials Sciences Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington 99352, USA.


Fragmentation pathways of peptide radical cations, M(+*), with well-defined initial location of the radical site were explored using collision-induced dissociation (CID) experiments. Peptide radical cations were produced by gas-phase fragmentation of Co(III)(salen)-peptide complexes [salen = N,N'-ethylenebis (salicylideneiminato)]. Subsequent hydrogen abstraction from the beta-carbon of the side-chain followed by C(alpha)-C(beta) bond cleavage results in the loss of a neutral side chain and formation of an alpha-radical cation with the radical site localized on the alpha-carbon of the backbone. Similar CID spectra dominated by radical-driven dissociation products were obtained for a number of arginine-containing alpha-radicals, suggesting that for these systems radical migration precedes fragmentation. In contrast, proton-driven fragmentation dominates CID spectra of alpha-radicals produced via the loss of the arginine side chain. Radical-driven fragmentation of large M(+*) peptide radical cations is dominated by side-chain losses, formation of even-electron a-ions and odd-electron x-ions resulting from C(alpha)-C bond cleavages, formation of odd-electron z-ions, and loss of the N-terminal residue. In contrast, charge-driven fragmentation produces even-electron y-ions and odd-electron b-ions.

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