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J Am Chem Soc. 2010 Dec 29;132(51):18248-57. doi: 10.1021/ja107286p. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Covalent modification of gaseous peptide ions with N-hydroxysuccinimide ester reagent ions.

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Department of Chemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2084, USA.


Covalent modification of primary amine groups in multiply protonated or deprotonated polypeptides in the gas phase via ion/ion reactions is demonstrated using N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) esters as the modifying reagents. During the ion/ion reaction, the peptide analyte ions and the NHS or sulfo-NHS based reagent form a long-lived complex, which is a prerequisite for the covalent modification chemistry to occur. Ion activation of the peptide-reagent complex results in a neutral NHS or sulfo-NHS molecule loss, which is a characteristic signature of covalent modification. As the NHS or sulfo-NHS group leaves, an amide bond is formed between a free, unprotonated, primary amine group of a lysine side chain in the peptide and the carboxyl group in the reagent. Subsequent activation of the NHS or sulfo-NHS loss product ions results in sequence informative fragment ions containing the modification. The N-terminus primary amine group does not make a significant contribution to the modification process; this behavior has also been observed in solution phase reactions. The ability to covalently modify primary amine groups in the gas phase with N-hydroxysuccinimide reagents opens up the possibility of attaching a wide range of chemical groups to gaseous peptides and proteins and also for selectively modifying other analytes containing free primary amine groups.

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