Cyclization reaction of peptide fragment ions during multistage collisionally activated decomposition: An inducement to lose internal amino-acid residues
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During characterization of some peptides (linear precursors of the cyclic peptides showing potential to be anticancer drugs) in an ion trap, it was noted that many internal amino acid residues could be lost from singly charged b ions. The phenomenon was not obvious at the first stage of collisionally activated decomposition (CAD), but was apparent at multiple stages of CAD. The unique fragmentation consisting of multiple steps is induced by a cyclization reaction of b ions, the mechanism of which has been probed by experiments of N-acetylation, MSn, rearranged-ion design, and activation-time adjustment. The fragmentation of synthetic cyclic peptides demonstrates that a cyclic peptide intermediate (CPI) formed by b ion cyclization exhibits the same fragmentation pattern as a protonated cyclic peptide. Although no rules for the cyclization reaction were discerned in the experiments of peptide modification, the fragmentations of a number of b ions indicate that the “Pro and Asn/Gln effects” can influence ring openings of CPIs. In addition, large-scale losses of internal residues from different positions of a-type ions have been observed when pure helium was used as collision gas. The fragmentation is initiated by a cyclization reaction forming an a-type ion CPI. This CPI with a fixed-charge structure cannot be influenced by the “Pro effect”, causing a selective ring opening at the amide bond Pro-Xxx rather than Xxx-Pro. With the knowledge of the unique fragmentations leading to internal residue losses, the misidentification of fragments and sequences of peptides may be avoided.