Fragmentation chemistry of [M + Cu]+ peptide ions containing an N-terminal arginine. Academic Article uri icon


  • [M + Cu]+ peptide ions formed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization from direct desorption off a copper sample stage have sufficient internal energy to undergo metastable ion dissociation in a time-of-flight mass spectrometer. On the basis of fragmentation chemistry of peptides containing an N-terminal arginine, we propose the primary Cu+ ion binding site is the N-terminal arginine with Cu+ binding to the guanidine group of arginine and the N-terminal amine. The principal decay products of [M + Cu]+ peptide ions containing an N-terminal arginine are [a(n) + Cu - H]+ and [b(n) + Cu - H]+ fragments. We show evidence to suggest that [a(n) + Cu - H]+ fragment ions are formed by elimination of CO from [b(n) + Cu - H]+ ions and by direct backbone cleavage. We conclude that Cu+ ionizes the peptide by attaching to the N-terminal arginine residue; however, fragmentation occurs remote from the Cu+ ion attachment site involving metal ion promoted deprotonation to generate a new site of protonation. That is, the fragmentation reactions of [M + Cu]+ ions can be described in terms of a "mobile proton" model. Furthermore, proline residues that are adjacent to the N-terminal arginine do not inhibit formation of [b(n) + Cu - H]+ ion, whereas proline residues that are distant to the charge carrying arginine inhibit formation of [b(n) + Cu - H]+ ions. An unusual fragment ion, [c(n) + Cu + H]+, is also observed for peptides containing lysine, glutamine, or asparagine in close proximity to the Cu+ carrying N-terminal arginine. Mechanisms for formation of this fragment ion are also proposed.

published proceedings

  • J Am Soc Mass Spectrom

author list (cited authors)

  • Shields, S. J., Bluhm, B. K., & Russell, D. H.

citation count

  • 53

complete list of authors

  • Shields, SJ||Bluhm, BK||Russell, DH

publication date

  • July 2000