Fragmentation of tunichrome Sp-1 is dominated by an unusual gas-phase intramolecular rearrangement

J Mass Spectrom. 2003 Oct;38(10):1105-9. doi: 10.1002/jms.530.


Tunichrome Sp-1 is a modified pentapeptide from the ascidian Styela plicata, having the structure H-DOPA-DOPA-Gly-Pro-dcDeltaDOPA (where DOPA = 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine and dcDeltaDOPA = decarboxy-(E)-alpha,beta-dehydro-DOPA). The tandem mass spectrum of the peptide is dominated by a number of abundant fragment ions that involve a gas-phase rearrangement where the dcDeltaDOPA group becomes covalently attached to the N-terminus. The high degree of rearrangement in Sp-1 compared with a related octapeptide, plicatamide, allowed for detailed multiple mass spectrometric (MS(n)) (up to n = 6) experiments, and hence permitted a detailed assessment of the origin and routes to the formation of the various rearrangement ions. Analyses on both a triple-quadrupole and a quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer were made to ascertain whether the gas-phase rearrangements observed for tunichrome Sp-1 were unique to an ion trap mass spectrometer (i.e. the hypothesis being that perhaps the extended trapping times were required to facilitate this unusual gas-phase rearrangement). Interestingly, analyses on both the triple-quadrupole and quadruple time-of-flight mass spectrometers revealed an identical phenomenon, with the rearrangement fragment ions present at approximately the same abundance as the non-rearranged a-, b- and y-type sequence ions. We suggest that the smaller size of tunichrome Sp-1 compared with plicatamide facilitates the transfer of the dcDeltaDOPA group in this gas-phase rearrangement. This rearrangement was not observed for peptide analogs of tunichrome Sp-1 that did not contain the dcDeltaDOPA at the C-terminus, confirming that the presence of dcDeltaDOPA is critical for the rearrangement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gases / chemistry*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oligopeptides / chemistry*
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Urochordata / chemistry


  • Gases
  • Oligopeptides
  • Peptide Fragments
  • tunichrome sp-1