Open Search of Peptide Glycation Products from Tandem Mass Spectra

Anal Chem. 2022 Apr 19;94(15):5953-5961. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.2c00388. Epub 2022 Apr 7.


Identification of chemically modified peptides in mass spectrometry (MS)-based glycation studies is a crucial yet challenging task. There is a need to establish a mode for matching tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) data, allowing for both known and unknown peptide glycation modifications. We present an open search approach that uses classic and modified peptide fragment ions. The latter are shifted by the mass delta of the modification. Both provide key structural information that can be used to assess the peptide core structure of the glycation product. We also leverage redundant neutral losses from the modification side chain, introducing a third ion class for matching referred to as characteristic fragment ions. We demonstrate that peptide glycation product MS/MS spectra contain multidimensional information and that most often, more than half of the spectral information is ignored if no attempt is made to use a multi-step matching algorithm. Compared to regular and/or modified peptide ion matching, our triple-ion strategy significantly increased the median interpretable fraction of the glycation product MS/MS spectra. For reference, we apply our approach for Amadori product characterization and identify all established diagnostic ions automatically. We further show how this method effectively applies the open search concept and allows for optimized elucidation of unknown structures by presenting two hitherto undescribed peptide glycation modifications with a delta mass of 102.0311 and 268.1768 Da. We characterize their fragmentation signature by integration with isotopically labeled glycation products, which provides high validity for non-targeted structure identification.

MeSH terms

  • Glycosylation
  • Ions
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Peptides* / chemistry
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry* / methods


  • Ions
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Peptides