Host-guest chemistry in the gas phase: Selected fragmentations of CB[6]-peptide complexes at lysine residues and its utility to probe the structures of small proteins

Sung Woo Heo, Tae Su Choi, Kyung Man Park, Young Ho Ko, Seung Bin Kim, Kimoon Kim, Hugh I. Kim

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The gas phase host-guest chemistry between cucurbit[6]uril (CB[6]) and peptide is investigated using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). CB[6] exhibits a high preference to interacting with a Lys residue in a peptide forming a CB[6]-peptide complex. Collisionally activated CB[6] complexes of peptides yield a common highly selective fragment product at m/z 549.2, corresponding to the doubly charged CB[6] complex of 5- iminiopentylammonium (5IPA). The process involves the formation of an internal iminium ion, which results from further fragments to an a-type ion from a y-type ion, and the resulting 5IPA ion threads through CB[6]. Numerous peptides are investigated to test the generality of the observed unique host-guest chemistry of CB[6]. Its potential utility in probing protein structures is demonstrated using CB[6] complexes of ubiquitin. Low-energy collision induced dissociation yields CB[6] complex fragments, and further MS n spectra reveal details of the CB[6] binding sites, which allow us to deduce the protein structure in the solution phase. The mechanisms and energetics of the observed reactions are evaluated using density functional theory calculations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7916-7923
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical chemistry
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Oct 15
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry

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