Isotope labeling and theoretical study of the formation of a3* ions from protonated tetraglycine
Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. 2006 Dec; 17(12): 1654-64.
Extensive 13C, 15N, and 2H labeling of tetraglycine was used to investigate the b3+ --> a3* reaction during low-energy collision-induced dissociation (CID) in a quadrupole ion-trap mass spectrometer. The patterns observed with respect to the retention or elimination of the isotope labels demonstrate that the reaction pathway involves elimination of CO and NH3. The ammonia molecule includes 2 H atoms from amide or amino positions, and one from an alpha-carbon position. The loss of NH3 does not involve elimination of the N-terminal amino group but, instead, the N atom of the presumed oxazolone ring in the b3+ ion. The CO molecule eliminated is the carbonyl group of the same oxazolone ring, and the alpha-carbon H atom is transferred from the amino acid adjacent to the oxazolone ring. Quantum chemical calculations indicate a multistep reaction cascade involving CO loss on the b3 --> a3 pathway and loss of NH=CH2 from the a3 ion to form b2. In the postreaction complex of b2 and NH=CH2, the latter can be attacked by the N-terminal amino group of the former. The product of this attack, an isomerized a3 ion, can eliminate NH3 from its N-terminus to form a3*. Calculations suggest that the ammonia and a3* species can form various ion-molecule complexes, and NH3 can initiate relay-type mobilization of the oxazolone H atoms from alpha-carbon positions to form a new oxazolone isomer. This multiple-step reaction scheme clearly explains the isotope labeling results, including unexpected scrambling of H atoms from alpha-carbon positions.