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Keywords:

  • arginine modification;
  • malondialdehyde;
  • peptide fragmentation;
  • phosphorylation;
  • tandem mass spectrometry

Abstract

Despite significant technological and methodological advancements in peptide sequencing by mass spectrometry, analyzing peptides that exhibit only poor fragmentation upon collision-induced dissociation (CID) remains a challenge. A major cause for unfavorable fragmentation is insufficient proton ‘mobility’ due to charge localization at strongly basic sites, in particular, the guanidine group of arginine. We have recently demonstrated that the conversion of the guanidine group of the arginine side chain by malondialdehyde (MDA) is a convenient tool to reduce the basicity of arginine residues and can have beneficial effects for peptide fragmentation. In the present work, we have focused on peptides that typically yield incomplete sequence information in CID-MS/MS experiments. Energy-resolved tandem MS experiments were carried out on angiotensins and arginine-containing phosphopeptides to study in detail the influence of the modification step on the fragmentation process. MDA modification dramatically improved the fragmentation behavior of peptides that exhibited only one or two dominant cleavages in their unmodified form. Neutral loss of phosphoric acid from phosphopeptides carrying phosphoserine and threonine residues was significantly reduced in favor of a higher abundance of fragment ions. Complementary experiments were carried out on three different instrumental platforms (triple-quadrupole, 3D ion trap, quadrupole–linear ion trap hybrid) to ascertain that the observation is a general effect. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.