Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 1378-1390

First online:

Radical-driven dissociation of odd-electron peptide radical ions produced in 157 nm photodissociation

  • Liangyi ZhangAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Indiana University
  • , James P. ReillyAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Indiana University Email author 


Odd-electron a+1 radical ions generated in the 157 nm photodissociation of peptide ions were investigated in an ion trap mass spectrometer. To localize the radical, peptide backbone amide hydrogens were replaced with deuterium. When the resulting radical ions underwent hydrogen elimination, no H/D scrambling was obvious, suggesting that without collisional activation, the radical resides on the terminal α-carbon. Upon collisional excitation, odd-electron radical ions dissociate through two favored pathways: the production of a-type ions at aromatic amino acids via homolytic cleavage of backbone Cα-C(O) bonds and side-chain losses at nonaromatic amino acids. When aromatic residues are not present, nonaromatic residues can also lead to a-type ions. In addition to a-type ions, serine and threonine yield c n−1 and a n−1+1 ions where n denotes the position of the serine or threonine. All of these fragments appear to be directed by the radical and they strongly depend on the amino acid side-chain structure. In addition, thermal fragments are also occasionally observed following cleavage of labile Xxx-Pro bonds and their formation appears to be kinetically competitive with radical migration.