Characterization of amino acid side chain losses in electron capture dissociation


We have used electrospray ionization (ESI) Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR) mass spectrometry to characterize amino acid side chain losses observed during electron capture dissociation (ECD) of ten 7- to 14-mer peptides. Side-chain cleavages were observed for arginine, histidine, asparagine or glutamine, methionine, and lysine residues. All peptides containing an arginine, histidine, asparagine or glutamine showed the losses associated with that residue. Methionine side-chain loss was observed for doubly-protonated bombesin. Lysine side-chain loss was observed for triply-protonated dynorphin A fragment 1–13 but not for the doubly-protonated ion. The proximity of arginine to a methoxy C-terminal group significantly enhances the extent of side-chain fragmentation. Fragment ions associated with side-chain losses were comparable in abundance to those resulting from backbone cleavage in all cases. In the ECD spectrum of one peptide, the major product was due to fragmentation within an arginine side chain. Our results suggest that cleavages within side chains should be taken into account in analysis of ECD mass spectral data. Losses from arginine, histidine, and asparigine/glutamine can be used to ascertain their presence, as in the analysis of unknown peptides, particularly those with non-linear structures.