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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2012 Apr;23(4):718-27. doi: 10.1007/s13361-011-0331-5.

Characterizing peptide neutral losses induced by negative electron-transfer dissociation (NETD).

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Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


We implemented negative electron-transfer dissociation (NETD) on a hybrid ion trap/Orbitrap mass spectrometer to conduct ion/ion reactions using peptide anions and radical reagent cations. In addition to sequence-informative ladders of a•- and x-type fragment ions, NETD generated intense neutral loss peaks corresponding to the entire or partial side-chain cleavage from amino acids constituting a given peptide. Thus, a critical step towards the characterization of this recently introduced fragmentation technique is a systematic study of synthetic peptides to identify common neutral losses and preferential fragmentation pathways. Examining 46 synthetic peptides with high mass accuracy and high resolution analysis permitted facile determination of the chemical composition of each neutral loss. We identified 19 unique neutral losses from 14 amino acids and three modified amino acids, and assessed the specificity and sensitivity of each neutral loss using a database of 1542 confidently identified peptides generated from NETD shotgun experiments employing high-pH separations and negative electrospray ionization. As residue-specific neutral losses indicate the presence of certain amino acids, we determined that many neutral losses have potential diagnostic utility. We envision this catalogue of neutral losses being incorporated into database search algorithms to improve peptide identification specificity and to further advance characterization of the acidic proteome.

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