Hydrogen rearrangement to and from radical z fragments in electron capture dissociation of peptides
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Hydrogen rearrangement is an important process in radical chemistry. A high degree of H· rearrangement to and from z· ionic fragments (combined occurrence frequency 47% compared with that of z·) is confirmed in analysis of 15,000 tandem mass spectra of tryptic peptides obtained with electron capture dissociation (ECD), including previously unreported double H· losses. Consistent with the radical character of H· abstraction, the residue determining the formation rate of z′=z·+H· species is found to be the N-terminal residue in z· species. The size of the complementary c′m fragment turned out to be another important factor, with z′ species dominating over z· ions for m ≤ 6. The H· atom was found to be abstracted from the side chains as well as from α-carbon groups of residues composing the c′ species, with Gln and His in the c′ fragment promoting H· donation and Asp and Ala opposing it. Ab initio calculations of formation energies of ·A radicals (A is an amino acid) confirmed that the main driving force for H· abstraction by z· is the process exothermicity. No valid correlation was found between the N-Cα bond strength and the frequency of this bond cleavage, indicating that other factors than thermochemistry are responsible for directing the site of ECD cleavage. Understanding hydrogen attachment to and loss from ECD fragments should facilitate automatic interpretation ECD mass spectra in protein identification and characterization, including de novo sequencing.
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