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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2011 Oct;22(10):1771-83. doi: 10.1007/s13361-011-0192-y. Epub 2011 Jul 26.

Tandem mass spectrometric characterization of thiol peptides modified by the chemoselective cationic sulfhydryl reagent (4-iodobutyl)triphenylphosphonium--effects of a cationic thiol derivatization on peptide fragmentation.

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Department of Chemistry, Oregon State University, 153 Gilbert Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.


Fixed charge chemical modifications on peptides and proteins can impact fragmentation behaviors in tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). In this study, we employed a thiol-specific cationic alkylation reagent, (4-iodobutyl)triphenylphosphonium (IBTP), to selectively modify cysteine thiol groups in mitochondrial proteome samples. Tandem mass spectrometric characteristics of butyltriphenylphosphonium (BTP)-modified peptides were evaluated by comparison to their carbamidomethylated (CAM) analogues using a quadrupole time-of-flight (Q-TOF) instrument under low energy collision-induced dissociation (CID) conditions. Introduction of the fixed charge modification resulted in the observation of peptide and fragment (b(n) and y(n)) ions with higher charge states than those observed for CAM-modified analogues. The charged BTP moiety had a significant effect on the neighboring amide bond fragmentation products. A decrease in relative abundances of the product ions at the corresponding cleavage sites was observed compared with those from the CAM-modified derivatives. This effect was particularly noticeable when an Xxx-Pro bond was in the vicinity of a BTP group. We hypothesized that the presence of a phosphonium moiety will reduce the tendency for protonation of the proximal amide bonds in the peptide backbone. Indeed, calculations indicated that proton affinities of backbone amide bonds close to the modified cysteine residues were generally 20-50 kcal/mol lower for BTP-modified peptides than for the unmodified or CAM-modified analogues with the sequence motif -Ala-Cys-Ala(n)-Ala(2)-, -Ala-Cys-Ala(n)-Pro-Ala-, and -Ala-Pro-Ala(n)-Cys-Ala-, n=0-3.

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