Investigation of the mechanism of electron capture and electron transfer dissociation of peptides with a covalently attached free radical hydrogen atom scavenger

Chang Ho Sohn, Sheng Yin, Ivory Peng, Joseph A. Loo, J. L. Beauchamp

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanisms of electron capture and electron transfer dissociation (ECD and ETD) are investigated by covalently attaching a free-radical hydrogen atom scavenger to a peptide. The 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidin-l-oxyl (TEMPO) radical was chosen as the scavenger due to its high hydrogen atom affinity (ca. 280 kJ/mol) and low electron affinity (ca. 0.45 eV), and was derivatized to the model peptide, FQXTEMPOEEQQQTEDELQDK. The XTEMPO residue represents a cysteinyl residue derivatized with an acetamido-TEMPO group. The acetamide group without TEMPO was also examined as a control. The gas phase proton affinity (882 kJ/mol) of TEMPO is similar to backbone amide carbonyls (889 kJ/mol), minimizing perturbation to internal solvation and sites of protonation of the derivatized peptides. Collision-induced dissociation (CID) of the TEMPO-tagged peptide dication generated stable odd-electron b and y type ions without indication of any TEMPO radical induced fragmentation initiated by hydrogen abstraction. The type and abundance of fragment ions observed in the CID spectra of the TEMPO and acetamide tagged peptides are very similar. However, ECD of the TEMPO-labeled peptide dication yielded no backbone cleavage. We propose that a labile hydrogen atom in the charge reduced radical ions is scavenged by the TEMPO radical moiety, resulting in inhibition of N-Cα backbone cleavage processes. Supplemental activation after electron attachment (ETcaD) and CID of the charge-reduced precursor ion generated by electron transfer of the TEMPO-tagged peptide dication produced a series of b + H (bH) and y + H (yH) ions along with some c ions having suppressed intensities, consistent with stable O-H bond formation at the TEMPO group. In summary, the results indicate that ECD and ETD backbone cleavage processes are inhibited by scavenging of a labile hydrogen atom by the localized TEMPO radical moiety. This observation supports the conjecture that ECD and ETD processes involve long-lived intermediates formed by electron capture/transfer in which a labile hydrogen atom is present and plays a key role with low energy processes leading to c and z ion formation. Ab initio and density functional calculations are performed to support our conclusion, which depends most importantly on the proton affinity, electron affinity and hydrogen atom affinity of the TEMPO moiety.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15447
Pages (from-to)49-55
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 29

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the J.L.B.), and the National Science Foundation through grant CHE-0416381 and the Resource Center for Mass Spectrometry of the Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology (to National Institutes of Health (grant R01GM103479 to J.A.L.). C. H. S. acknowledges a fellowship from the Kwanjeong Educational Foundation . The NIH/NCRR High-End Instrumentation Program supported the acquisition of the LTQ-FT mass spectrometer (grant S10 RR023045 to J.A.L.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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