C-terminal amino acid residue loss for deprotonated peptide ions containing glutamic acid, aspartic acid, or serine residues at the C-terminus

Zhong Li, Talat Yalcin, Carolyn J. Cassady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deprotonated peptides containing C-terminal glutamic acid, aspartic acid, or serine residues were studied by sustained off-resonance irradiation collision-induced dissociation (SORI-CID) in a Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FT-ICR) mass spectrometer with ion production by electrospray ionization (ESI). Additional studies were performed by post source decay (PSD) in a matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization/time-of-flight (MALDI/TOF) mass spectrometer. This work included both model peptides synthesized in our laboratory and bioactive peptides with more complex sequences. During SORI-CID and PSD, [M - H]- and [M - 2H]2- underwent an unusual cleavage corresponding to the elimination of the C-terminal residue. Two mechanisms are proposed to occur. They involve nucleophilic attack on the carbonyl carbon of the adjacent residue by either the carboxylate group of the C-terminus or the side chain carboxylate group of C-terminal glutamic acid and aspartic acid residues. To confirm the proposed mechanisms, AAAAAD was labelled by 18O specifically on the side chain of the aspartic acid residue. For peptides that contain multiple C-terminal glutamic acid residues, each of these residues can be sequentially eliminated from the deprotonated ions; a driving force may be the formation of a very stable pyroglutamatic acid neutral. For peptides with multiple aspartic acid residues at the C-terminus, aspartic acid residue loss is not sequential. For peptides with multiple serine residues at the C-terminus, C-terminal residue loss is sequential; however, abundant loss of other neutral molecules also occurs. In addition, the presence of basic residues (arginine or lysine) in the sequence has no effect on C-terminal residue elimination in the negative ion mode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-949
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Mass Spectrometry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Acidic residues
  • C-terminal residue loss
  • Deprotonated peptides
  • PSD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Spectroscopy


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