Long-lived electron capture dissociation product ions experience radical migration via hydrogen abstraction


To explore the mechanism of electron capture dissociation (ECD) of linear peptides, a set of 16-mer peptides were synthesized with deuterium labeled on the α-carbon position of four glycines. The ECD spectra of these peptides showed that such peptides exhibit a preference for the radical to migrate to the α-carbon position on glycine via hydrogen (or deuterium) abstraction before the final cleavage and generation of the detected product ions. The data show c-type fragment ions, ions corresponding to the radical cation of the c-type fragments, c·, and they also show c·-1 peaks in the deuterated peptides only. The presence of the c·-1 peaks is best explained by radical-mediated scrambling of the deuterium atoms in the long-lived, metastable, radical intermediate complex formed by initial electron capture, followed by dissociation of the complex. These data suggest the presence of at least two mechanisms, one slow, one fast. The abundance of H· and −CO losses from the precursor ion changed upon deuterium labeling indicating the presence of a kinetic isotope effect, which suggests that the values reported here represent an underestimation of radical migration and H/D scrambling in the observed fragments.

Published online February 28, 2006