Identification of the facile gas-phase cleavage of the Asp-Pro and Asp-Xxx peptide bonds in matrix-assisted laser desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometry

Anal Chem. 1993 Nov 1;65(21):3015-23. doi: 10.1021/ac00069a014.


Abundant ions corresponding to the gas-phase cleavage of the Asp-Pro and Asp-Xxx bonds of peptides in the process of matrix-assisted laser desorption were observed using a time-of-flight mass spectrometer equipped with both linear and reflector mass analyzers. Peptides containing the N-terminal sequence, Asp-Pro ... from an endoproteinase Asp-N digest yielded one peak in the molecular ion region in the linear mode and two equally abundant peaks in the reflector mode TOF mass spectra. The lower molecular masses in the reflector mode mass spectra could be eliminated by removing the Asp residue or derivatizing its side-chain carboxyl group. The observed mass differences did not correspond to any amino acid; however, by lowering the potential of the reflector to correct for the energy loss the mass difference was determined to be 115 Da, i.e., Asp. The extent and rate of this decomposition was compared with that obtained using a four-sector tandem mass spectrometer in the MS/MS mode of operation without and with a collision gas at collision cell potentials of 3.0 and 9.86 kV. These data suggest the Asp-Pro peptide bond is more labile than other peptide bonds in the gas phase. Abundant metastable decomposition of internal Asp-Pro bonds was also observed in larger peptides and proteins. Based on these latter data, a mechanism for this gas-phase cleavage is proposed.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Aspartic Acid / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry
  • Hydrolysis
  • Lasers
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry*
  • Proline / chemistry
  • Thioredoxins / chemistry


  • Peptide Fragments
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Thioredoxins
  • Proline