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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2012 Aug;23(8):1336-50. doi: 10.1007/s13361-012-0408-9. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

Cascade dissociations of peptide cation-radicals. Part 1. Scope and effects of amino acid residues in penta-, nona-, and decapeptides.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Amino acid residue-specific backbone and side-chain dissociations of peptide z ions in MS(3) spectra were elucidated for over 40 pentapeptides with arginine C-terminated sequences of the AAXAR and AAHXR type, nonapeptides of the AAHAAXX"AR and AAHAXAX"AR type, and AAHAAXX"AAR decapeptides. Peptide z(n) ions containing amino acid residues with readily transferrable benzylic or tertiary β-hydrogen atoms (Phe, Tyr, His, Trp, Val) underwent facile backbone cleavages to form dominant z(n-2) or z(n-3) ions. These backbone cleavages are thought to be triggered by a side-chain β-hydrogen atom transfer to the z ion C(α) radical site followed by homolytic dissociation of the adjacent C(α)-CO bond, forming x(n-2) cation-radicals that spontaneously dissociate by loss of HNCO. Amino acid residues that do not have readily transferrable β-hydrogen atoms (Gly, Ala) do not undergo the z(n) → z(n-2) dissociations. The backbone cleavages compete with side-chain dissociations in z ions containing Asp and Asn residues. Side-chain dissociations are thought to be triggered by α-hydrogen atom transfers that activate the C(β)-C(γ) or C(β)-heteroatom bonds for dissociations that dominate the MS(3) spectra of z ions from peptides containing Leu, Cys, Lys, Met, Ser, Arg, Glu, and Gln residues. The Lys, Arg, Gln, and Glu residues also participate in γ-hydrogen atom transfers that trigger other side-chain dissociations.

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