Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

, Volume 17, Issue 12, pp 1631-1642

First online:

Mechanisms for the selective gas-phase fragmentation reactions of methionine side chain fixed charge sulfonium ion containing peptides

  • Mahasilu AmunugamaAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Michigan State University
  • , Kade D. RobertsAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Michigan State University
  • , Gavin E. ReidAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Michigan State Universitythe Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University Email author 


To enable the development of improved tandem mass spectrometry based methods for selective proteome analysis, the mechanisms, product ion structures, and other factors influencing the gas-phase fragmentation reactions of methionine side-chain derivatized “fixed-charge” phenacylsulfonium ion containing peptide ions have been examined. Dissociation of these peptide ions results in the exclusive characteristic loss of the derivatized side chain, thereby enabling their selective identification. The resultant product ion(s) are then subjected to further dissociation to obtain sequence information for subsequent protein identification. Molecular orbital calculations (at the B3LYP/6-31+G (d,p) level of theory) performed on a simple peptide model, together with experimental evidence obtained by multistage dissociation of a regioselectively deuterated methionine derivatized sulfonium ion containing tryptic peptide, indicate that fragmentation of the fixed charge containing peptide ions occurs via SN2 reactions involving the N- and C-terminal amide bonds adjacent to the methionine side chain, resulting in the formation of stable cyclic five- and six-membered iminohydrofuran and oxazine product ions, respectively. These studies further indicate that the rings formed via these neighboring group reactions are stable to further dissociation by MS3. As a consequence, the formation of b- or y-type sequence ions are “skipped” at the site of cyclization. Despite this, complete sequence information is still obtained because of the presence of both cyclic products.