Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry

, Volume 30, Issue 9, pp 1601–1608 | Cite as

Methionine and Selenomethionine as Energy Transfer Acceptors for Biomolecular Structure Elucidation in the Gas Phase

  • Lance E. Talbert
  • Ryan R. JulianEmail author
Research Article


Mass spectrometry affords rapid and sensitive analysis of peptides and proteins. Coupling spectroscopy with mass spectrometry allows for the development of new methods to enhance biomolecular structure determination. Herein, we demonstrate two new energy acceptors that can be utilized for action-excitation energy transfer experiments. In the first system, C–S bonds in methionine act as energy acceptors from native chromophores, including tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine. Comparison among chromophores reveals that tyrosine transfers energy most efficiently at 266 nm, but phenylalanine and tryptophan also transfer energy with comparable efficiencies. Overall, the C–S bond dissociation yields following energy transfer are low for methionine, which led to an investigation of selenomethionine, a common analog that is found in many naturally occurring proteins. Sulfur and selenium are chemically similar, but C–Se bonds are weaker than C–S bonds and have lower lying σ* anti-bonding orbitals. Excitation of peptides containing tyrosine and tryptophan results in efficient energy transfer to selenomethionine and abundant C–Se bond dissociation. A series of helical peptides were examined where the positions of the donor or acceptor were systematically scanned to explore the influence of distance and helix orientation on energy transfer. The distance was found to be the primary factor affecting energy transfer efficiency, suggesting that selenomethionine may be a useful acceptor for probing protein structure in the gas phase.


FRET Action spectroscopy Distance constraint EET Photodissociation Ion mobility 



The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the NSF (CHE-1401737) and NIH (R01GM107099).


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Copyright information

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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