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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2013 Jul;24(7):1082-9. doi: 10.1007/s13361-013-0642-9. Epub 2013 May 21.

The mechanism of 2-furaldehyde formation from D-xylose dehydration in the gas phase. A tandem mass spectrometric study.

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Department of Mathematics and Physics, Second University of Naples, via Vivaldi, 43, 81100, Caserta, Italy.


The mechanism of reactions occurring in solution can be investigated also in the gas phase by suited mass spectrometric techniques, which allow to highlight fundamental mechanistic features independent of the influence of the medium and to clarifying controversial hypotheses proposed in solution studies. In this work, we report a gas-phase study performed by electrospray triple stage quadrupole mass spectrometry (ESI-TSQ/MS) on the dehydration of D-xylose, leading mainly to the formation of 2-furaldehyde (2-FA). It is generally known in carbohydrate chemistry that the thermal acid catalyzed dehydration of pentoses leads to the formation of 2-FA, but several aspects on the solution-phase mechanism are controversial. Here, gaseous reactant ions corresponding to protonated xylose molecules obtained from ESI of a solution containing D-xylose and ammonium acetate as protonating reagent were allowed to undergo collisionally activated decomposition (CAD) into the triple stage quadrupole analyzer. The product ion mass spectra of protonated xylose are characterized by the presence of ionic intermediates arising from xylose dehydration, which were structurally characterized by their fragmentation patterns. As expected, the xylose triple dehydration leads to the formation of the ion at m/z 97, corresponding to protonated 2-FA. On the basis of mass spectrometric evidences, we demonstrated that in the gas phase, the formation of 2-FA involves protonation at the OH group bound to the C1 atom of the sugar, the first ionic intermediate being characterized by a cyclic structure. Finally, energy resolved product ion mass spectra allowed to obtain information on the energetic features of the D-xylose→2-FA conversion. ᅟ

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