An EThcD-based approach for the reliable discrimination of isomeric leucine and isoleucine residues in peptide de novo sequencing procedure has been proposed. A multistage fragmentation of peptide ions was performed with Orbitrap Elite mass spectrometer in electrospray ionization mode. At the first stage, z-ions were produced by ETD or ETcaD fragmentation of doubly or triply charged peptide precursor ions. These primary ions were further fragmented by HCD with broad-band ion isolation, and the resulting w-ions showed different mass for leucine and isoleucine residues. The procedure did not require manual isolation of specific z-ions prior to HCD stage. Forty-three tryptic peptides (3 to 27 residues) obtained by trypsinolysis of human serum albumin (HSA) and gp188 protein were analyzed. To demonstrate a proper solution for radical site migration problem, three non-tryptic peptides were also analyzed. A total of 93 leucine and isoleucine residues were considered and 83 of them were correctly identified. The developed approach can be a reasonable substitution for additional Edman degradation procedure, which is still used in peptide sequencing for leucine and isoleucine discrimination. Graphical Abstract ᅟ.
Keywords: EThcD; Leucine/isoleucine differentiation; Orbitrap; Peptide sequencing; Tryptic peptides.