De novo sequencing, peptide composition analysis, and composition-based sequencing: a new strategy employing accurate mass determination by fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry

J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2004 May;15(5):703-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jasms.2004.01.007.


A new strategy is described for the determination of amino acid sequences of unknown peptides. Different from the well-known but often inefficient de novo sequencing approach, the new method is based on a two-step process. In the first step the amino acid composition of an unknown peptide is determined on the basis of accurate mass values of the peptide precursor ion and a small number of accurate fragment ion mass values, and, as in de novo sequencing, without employing protein database information or other pre-information. In the second step the sequence of the found amino acids of the peptide is determined by scoring the agreement between expected and observed fragment ion signals of the permuted sequences. It was found that the new approach is highly efficient if accurate mass values are available and that it easily outstrips common approaches of de novo sequencing being based on lower accuracies and detailed knowledge of fragmentation behavior. Simple permutation and calculation of all possible amino acid sequences, however, is only efficient if the composition is known or if possible compositions are at least reduced to a small list. The latter requires the highest possible instrumental mass accuracy, which is currently provided only by fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry. The connection between mass accuracy and peptide composition variability is described and an example of peptide compositioning and composition-based sequencing is presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cyclotrons
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptides / analysis*
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Substance P / chemistry*


  • Peptides
  • Substance P