The development of a robust ionization source using the counter-flow APCI, miniature mass spectrometer, and an automated sampling system for detecting explosives are described. These development efforts using mass spectrometry were made in order to improve the efficiencies of on-site detection in areas such as security, environmental, and industrial applications. A development team, including the author, has struggled for nearly 20 years to enhance the robustness and reduce the size of mass spectrometers to meet the requirements needed for on-site applications. This article focuses on the recent results related to the detection of explosive materials where automated particle sampling using a cyclone concentrator permitted the inspection time to be successfully reduced to 3 s.
Collision-induced dissociation (CID) is the most common tool for molecular analysis in mass spectrometry to date. However, there are difficulties associated with many applications because CID does not provide sufficient information to permit details of the molecular structures to be elucidated, including post-translational-modifications in proteomics, as well as isomer differentiation in metabolomics and lipidomics. To face these challenges, we are developing fast electron-based dissociation devices using a novel radio-frequency ion trap (i.e., a branched ion trap). These devices have the ability to perform electron capture dissociation (ECD) on multiply protonated peptide/proteins; in addition, the electron impact excitation of ions from organics (EIEIO) can be also performed on singly charged molecules using such a device. In this article, we review the development of this technology, in particular on how reaction speed for EIEIO analyses on singly charged ions can be improved. We also overview some unique, recently reported applications in both lipidomics and glycoproteomics.
Mass spectrometry (MS) has become an indispensable tool for analyzing post translational modifications of proteins, including N-glycosylated molecules. Because most glycosylation sites carry a multitude of glycans, referred to as “glycoforms,” the purpose of an N-glycosylation analysis is glycoform profiling and glycosylation site mapping. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) has unique characteristics that are suited for the sensitive analysis of N-glycosylated products. However, the analysis is often hampered by the inherent physico-chemical properties of N-glycans. Glycans are highly hydrophilic in nature, and therefore tend to show low ion yields in both positive- and negative-ion modes. The labile nature and complicated branched structures involving various linkage isomers make structural characterization difficult. This review focuses on MALDI-MS-based approaches for enhancing analytical performance in N-glycosylation research. In particular, the following three topics are emphasized: (1) Labeling for enhancing the ion yields of glycans and glycopeptides, (2) Negative-ion fragmentation for less ambiguous elucidation of the branched structure of N-glycans, (3) Derivatization for the stabilization and linkage isomer discrimination of sialic acid residues.
High energy collision processes for singly charged positive ions using an alkali metal target are confirmed, as a charge inversion mass spectrometry, to occur by electron transfers in successive collisions and the dissociation processes involve the formation of energy-selected neutral species from near-resonant neutralization with alkali metal targets. A doubly charged thermometer molecule was made to collide with alkali metal targets to give singly and doubly charged positive ions. The internal energy resulting from the electron transfer with the alkali metal target was very narrow and centered at a particular energy. This narrow internal energy distribution can be attributed to electron transfer by Landau–Zener potential crossing between the precursor ion and an alkali metal atom, and the coulombic repulsion between singly charged ions in the exit channel. A large cross section of more than 10−14 cm2 was estimated for high-energy electron transfer dissociation (HE-ETD). Doubly protonated phosphorylated peptides obtained by electrospray ionization were collided with Xe and Cs targets to give singly and doubly charged positive ions. Whereas doubly charged fragment ions resulting from CAD were dominant in the case of the Xe target, singly charged fragment ions resulting from ETD were dominant with the Cs target. HE-ETD using the Cs target provided all of the z-type ions by N–Cα bond cleavage without the loss of the phosphate groups. The results demonstrate that HE-ETD with an alkali metal target allowed the position of phosphorylation and the amino acid sequence of peptides with post translational modifications (PTM) to be determined.
Tissue samples from renal cell carcinoma patients were analyzed by electrospray droplet ion beam-induced secondary ion mass spectrometry (EDI/SIMS). Positively- and negatively-charged secondary ions were measured for the cancerous and noncancerous regions of the tissue samples. Although specific cancerous species could not be found in both the positive and negative secondary ion spectra, the spectra of the cancerous and noncancerous tissues presented different trends. For instance, in the m/z range of 500–800 of the positive secondary ion spectra for the cancerous tissues, the intensities for several m/z values were lower than those of the m/z+2 peaks (indicating one double bond loss for the species), whereas, for the noncancerous tissues, the inverse trend was obtained. The tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) was also performed on the tissue samples using probe electrospray ionization (PESI), and some molecular ions produced by PESI were found to be fragmented into the ions observed in EDI/SIMS analysis. When the positive secondary ion spectra produced by EDI/SIMS were analyzed by principal component analysis, the results for cancerous and noncancerous tissues were separated. The EDI/SIMS method can be applied to distinguish between a cancerous and a noncancerous area with high probability.
The concept of a fractional base unit for the Kendrick mass defect (KMD) analysis of polymer ions is introduced for the first time. A fraction of the ethylene oxide (EO) repeat unit (namely EO/8) has been used for the KMD analysis of a poly(ethylene oxide) and found to amplify the variations of KMD between monoisotopic and 13C isotopes, producing an isotopically resolved KMD plot at full scale when the KMD plot computed with EO is fuzzy. The expansion of the KMD dimension using a fractional base unit has then been successfully used to unequivocally discriminate all the distributions from a blend of poly(ethylene oxide)s in a high resolution KMD plot calculated with EO/3 as base unit. Extending the concept of fractional base units to other repeat units, the visualization of the co-oligomers from a poly(ethylene oxide-b-propylene oxide-b-ethylene oxide) triblock copolymer has been dramatically improved using a fraction of the propylene oxide repeat unit (namely PO/3) in an oligomer and isotope resolved plot. High resolution KMD plots were eventually calculated from tandem mass spectra of poly(dimethylsiloxane) ions using a fraction of the dimethylsiloxane (DMS) unit (namely DMS/6) with clearer point alignments and a discrimination of all the product ion series, out of reach of the KMD analysis using DMS. Versatile and producing high resolution KMD plots, the introduction of fractional base units is believed to be a major step towards the implementation of the KMD analysis as a routine data mining tool for mass spectrometry in polymer chemistry.
In targeted proteomics using liquid chromatography-tandem triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) in the selected reaction monitoring (SRM) mode, selecting the best observable or visible peptides is a key step in the development of SRM assay methods of target proteins. A direct comparison of signal intensities among all candidate peptides by brute-force LC/MS/MS analysis is a concrete approach for peptide selection. However, the analysis requires an SRM method with hundreds of transitions. This study reports on the development of a method for predicting and identifying hopeless peptides to reduce the number of candidate peptides needed for brute-force experiments. Hopeless peptides are proteotypic peptides that are unlikely to be selected for targets in SRM analysis owing to their poor ionization characteristics. Targeted proteomics data from Escherichia coli demonstrated that the relative ionization efficiency between two peptides could be predicted from sequences of two peptides, when a multivariate regression model is used. Validation of the method showed that >20% of the candidate peptides could be successfully eliminated as hopeless peptides with a false positive rate of less than 2%.
Ethoxy-, methoxy- and hydroxy-terminated polydimethylsiloxanes (PDMS) are formed as the result of the methanolysis of diethoxy-ended PDMS during its infusion in electrospray ionization. The negative ion mode permits only hydroxy-ended products to be detected, and isomeric interference is avoided in single stage and tandem mass spectrometry. The routes for the fragmentation of (ethyl, hydroxy)-, (methyl, hydroxy)- and (hydro, hydroxy)-ended PDMS upon collision activated dissociation (CAD) were explored in the negative ion mode using either formate or acetate anion adduction. Symmetrical (hydro, hydroxy)-ended PDMS decomposed to product ions carrying one of the hydroxy terminations through the abstraction of an acidic hydrogen and depolymerization (expulsion of cyclic neutral species) regardless of the adducted anion. Asymmetric (ethyl, hydroxy)-ended (resp. (methyl, hydroxy)-ended) PDMS yielded both ethoxy-ended (resp. methoxy-ended) fragment ions through the abstraction of the only acidic hydrogens and linear product ions carrying both terminations still interacted with the anion. The production of information-rich ethoxy-ended (resp. methoxy-ended) fragment ions was limited by formate but favored when acetate (higher proton affinity) was used in a CAD fingerprint complementary to the positive ion mode.
It has been shown that chemical modification of the peptide N-terminus with a charged tag greatly affects the fragmentation process caused by collision-induced dissociation to obtain more interpretable product ion spectra. In this study, we examined the selective introduction of a charged tag, 4-(guanidinomethyl)benzoic acid (Gmb), into the peptide N-terminus. After optimization of the reaction conditions, we found that the most effective conversion in terms of the reaction rate and selectivity was achieved by reacting the peptide with the active ester of Gmb, prepared using 4-(4,6-dimethoxy-1,3,5-triazin-2-yl)-4-methylmorpholinium chloride (DMT-MM) at pH 7. This method is applicable to the introduction of various carboxylic acid-containing compounds into the N-terminus of peptides, which will be useful not only for improvement of MS/MS fragmentation but also for various biochemical studies of peptides and proteins.
Because the ionization efficiency for glycopeptides is lower than that of peptides in electrospray ionization, it is frequently necessary to enrich them prior to their analysis using liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Although some methods for selectively enriching glycopeptides (e.g., lectin, agarose, and cellulose methods) have been reported, they are time-consuming (procedures that require several hours) and may not be applicable to submicrogram-sized samples. Here, we report on a rapid, simple method for enriching glycopeptides in small sample amounts using cellulose hydrophilic interaction (cellulose HILIC)/reversed-phase (RP) stop-and-go extraction tips (StageTips). Using the cellulose HILIC/RP StageTips, glycopeptide-selective enrichment can be achieved at the nanogram level within a few minutes.
Hydrogen fluoride (HF) was produced by a homemade HF generator in order to investigate the properties of strong hydrogen-bonded clusters such as (HF)n. The HF molecules were ionized in the form of complex ions associated with the negative core ions Y− produced by atmospheric pressure corona discharge ionization (APCDI). The use of APCDI in combination with the homemade HF generator led to the formation of negative-ion HF clusters Y−(HF)n (Y=F, O2), where larger clusters with n≥4 were not detected. The mechanisms for the formation of the HF, F−(HF)n, and O2−(HF)n species were discussed from the standpoints of the HF generator and APCDI MS. By performing energy-resolved collision-induced dissociation (CID) experiments on the cluster ions F−(HF)n (n=1–3), the energies for the loss of HF from F−(HF)3, F−(HF)2, and F−(HF) were evaluated to be 1 eV or lower, 1 eV or higher, and 2 eV, respectively, on the basis of their center-of-mass energy (ECM). These ECM values were consistent with the values of 0.995, 1.308, and 2.048 eV, respectively, obtained by ab initio calculations. The stability of [O2(HF)n]− (n=1–4) was discussed on the basis of the bond lengths of O2H–F−(HF)n and O2−H–F(HF)n obtained by ab initio calculations. The calculations indicated that [O2(HF)4]− separated into O2H and F−(HF)3.