Analysis of isoaspartate in peptides by electrospray tandem mass spectrometry

W D Lehmann, A Schlosser, G Erben, R Pipkorn, D Bossemeyer, V Kinzel
Protein Science 2000, 9 (11): 2260-8
In view of the significance of Asn deamidation and Asp isomerization to isoAsp at certain sites for protein aging and turnover, it was desirable to challenge the extreme analytical power of electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS) for the possibility of a site-specific detection of this posttranslational modification. For this purpose, synthetic L-Asp/L-isoAsp containing oligopeptide pairs were investigated by ESI-MS/MS and low-energy collision-induced dissociation (CID). Replacement of L-Asp by L-isoAsp resulted in the same kind of shifts for all 15 peptide pairs investigated: (1) the b/y intensity ratio of complementary b and y ions generated by cleavage of the (L-Asp/L-isoAsp)-X bond and of the X-(L-Asp/L-isoAsp) bond was decreased, and (2) the Asp immonium ion abundance at m/z 88 was also decreased. It is proposed that the isoAsp structure hampers the accepted mechanism of b-ion formation on both its N- and C-terminal side. The b/y ion intensity ratio and the relative immonium ion intensity vary considerably, depending on the peptide sequence, but the corresponding values are reproducible when recorded on the same instrument under identical instrumental settings. Thus, once the reference product ion spectra have been documented for a pair of synthetic peptides containing either L-Asp or L-isoAsp, these identify one or the other form. Characterization and relative quantification of L-Asp/L-isoAsp peptide mixtures are also possible as demonstrated for two sequences for which isoAsp formation has been described, namely myrG-D/isoD-AAAAK (deamidated peptide 1-7 of protein kinase A catalytic subunit) and VQ-D/isoD-GLR (deamidated peptide 41-46 of human procollagen alpha 1). Thus, the analytical procedures described may be helpful for the identification of suspected Asn deamidation and Asp isomerization sites in proteolytic digests of proteins.

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