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Pair of Stereodynamic Chiral Benzylicaldehyde Probes for Determination of Absolute Configuration of Amino Acid Residues in Peptides by Mass Spectrometry

Wang, Lin, Jin, Zhe, Wang, Xiayan, Zeng, Su, Sun, Cuirong, Pan, Yuanjiang
Analytical chemistry 2017 v.89 no.22 pp. 11902-11907
acid hydrolysis, amino acids, imines, mass spectrometry, molecular models, optical isomerism, peptides, proteins, reference standards
This paper describes a simple method to determine the absolute configuration of amino acids residues in peptides by mass spectrometry using a newly developed pair of mass-tagged chiral probes without the requirement of reference standards. A pair of benzylicaldehyde probes, 1-(S)-¹H in S configuration and 2-(R)-²D in deuterium-labeled R configuration with the ratio of 1:1, were synthesized for in situ condensation with amino acid residues and transformed into a pair of stereodynamic imine products. The characteristic intensity difference observed in mass spectrometry can be used to determine the absolute configuration and to quantify the enantiomeric composition of chiral amino acid residues. Significant chiral recognition ability was achieved for 18 natural chiral amino acids and for one β-amino acid by comparing the ion intensity ratio of imine products I[₁₋₍S₎₋¹H₋AA]– to I[₂₋₍R₎₋²D₋AA]–. For 16 kinds of amino acids, the L form of the amino acids was more reactive with 1-(S)-¹H, while D configuration amino acids preferred to react with 2-(R)-²D. However, for three kinds of amino acid, the opposite result was obtained. The configurations of the residues in the peptides, Phe-Tyr-Ala, D-Phe-Tyr-Ala, Val-Pro-Phe-D-Leu-Met, Val-Pro-Phe-Leu-D-Met, as well as in a natural peptide with unknown chirality were determined by acid hydrolysis followed by the present method. In addition, molecular modeling results illustrate that the recognition process is mainly controlled by kinetic factors. Using the new probes coupled with a mass spectrometry approach avoids time-consuming workup and separation steps. We expect that the probes could be applied as tools to determine the absolute configuration of amino acid residues in proteins in future research.