Use of a designed peptide array to infer dissociation trends for nontryptic peptides in quadrupole ion trap and quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry

Anal Chem. 2007 Oct 15;79(20):7822-30. doi: 10.1021/ac070557y. Epub 2007 Sep 14.


Observed peptide gas-phase fragmentation patterns are a complex function of many variables. To systematically probe this phenomenon, an array of 40 peptides was synthesized for study. The array of sequences was designed to hold certain variables (peptide length) constant and randomize or balance others (peptide amino acid distribution and position). A high-quality tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) data set was acquired for each peptide for all observed charge states on multiple MS instruments, quadrupole-time-of-flight and quadrupole ion trap. The data were analyzed as a function of total charge state and number of mobile protons. Previously known dissociation trends were observed, validating our approach. In addition, the general influence of basic amino acids on dissociation could be determined because, in contrast to the more widely studied tryptic peptides, the amino acids H, K, and R were positionally distributed. Interestingly, our results suggest that cleavage at all basic amino acids is suppressed when a mobile proton is available. Cleavage at H becomes favored only under conditions where a partially mobile proton is present, a caveat to the previously reported trend of enhanced cleavage at H. Finally, all acquired data were used as a benchmark to determine how well these sequences would have been identified in a database search using a common algorithm, Mascot.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Ions / chemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptides / analysis*
  • Peptides / chemical synthesis
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Protein Array Analysis / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Trypsin / metabolism


  • Ions
  • Peptides
  • Trypsin