The study of peptide fragmentation is important to the understanding of chemical processes occurring in the gas phase and the more practical concern of peptide identification for proteomic analysis. Using the mobile proton model as a framework, we explore the effect of amino-group modifications on peptide fragmentation. Three aldehydes are used to transform the peptides' primary amino groups into either a dimethylamino or a heterocyclic structure (five- or six-membered). The observed fragmentation patterns deviate strongly from those observed for the analogous underivatised peptides. In particular, the a1 ion is the base peak in most tandem mass spectra of the derivatised peptides. The a1 ion intensity depends strongly on the N-terminal amino acid, with tyrosine and phenylalanine having the strongest enhancement. Despite the change in fragmentation patterns of the derivatised peptides, they still provide high-quality tandem mass spectra that, in many cases, are more amenable to database searching than the spectra of underivatised peptides. In addition, the reliable presence of the a1 ion facilitates rapid quantitative measurements using the multiple reaction monitoring approach. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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