Mass spectrometric and quantum mechanical analysis of gas-phase formation, structure, and decomposition of various b2 ions and their specifically deuterated analogs
B ions represent an important type of fragment ions derived from protonated peptides by cleavage of an amide bond with N-terminal charge retention. Such species have also been discussed as key intermediates during cyclic peptide fragmentation. Detailed structural information on such ion types can facilitate the interpretation of multiple step fragmentations such as the formation of inner chain fragments from linear peptides or the fragmentation of cyclic peptides. The structure of different b2 ion isomers was investigated with collision-induced dissociations (CID) in combination with hydrogen/deuterium (H/D) exchange of the acidic protons. Special care was taken to investigate fragment ions derived from pure gas-phase processes. Structures deduced from the results of the CID analysis were compared with structures predicted on the basis of quantum chemical density functional theory (DFT) calculations to be most stable. The results pointed to different types of structures for b2 ion isomers of complementary amino acid sequences. Either the protonated oxazolone structure or the N-terminally protonated immonium ion structure were proposed on the basis of the CID results and the DFT calculations. In addition, the analysis of different selectively N-alkylated peptide analogs revealed mechanistic details of the processes generating b ions.
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