Gas-phase fragmentation of long-lived cysteine radical cations formed via no loss from protonated S-nitrosocysteine


In this work, we describe two different methods for generating protonated S-nitrosocysteine in the gas phase. The first method involves a gas-phase reaction of protonated cysteine with t-butylnitrite, while the second method uses a solution-based transnitrosylation reaction of cysteine with S-nitrosoglutathione followed by transfer of the resulting S-nitrosocysteine into the gas phase by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). Independent of the way it was formed, protonated S-nitrosocysteine readily fragments via bond homolysis to form a long-lived radical cation of cysteine (Cys•+), which fragments under collision-induced dissociation (CID) conditions via losses in the following relative abundance order: •COOH ≫ CH2S > •CH2SH-H2S. Deuterium labeling experiments were performed to study the mechanisms leading to these pathways. DFT calculations were also used to probe aspects of the fragmentation of protonated S-nitrosocysteine and the radical cation of cysteine. NO loss is found to be the lowest energy channel for the former ion, while the initially formed distonic Cys•+ with a sulfur radical site undergoes proton and/or H atom transfer reactions that precede the losses of CH2S, •COOH, •CH2SH, and H2S.

Dedicated to our friend and collaborator Julia Laskin on the award of the Biemann Medal, which is in recognition for her outstanding contributions to mass spectrometry.
Part 65 of the series “Gas-Phase Ion Chemistry of Biomolecules.”
Published online January 9, 2009