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Gas-Phase Fragmentation of ADP-Ribosylated Peptides: Arginine-Specific Side-Chain Losses and Their Implication in Database Searches

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posted on 03.11.2020, 16:37 by Peter M. Gehrig, Kathrin Nowak, Christian Panse, Mario Leutert, Jonas Grossmann, Ralph Schlapbach, Michael O. Hottiger
ADP-ribosylation is a reversible post-translational modification of proteins that has been linked to many biological processes. The identification of ADP-ribosylated proteins and particularly of their acceptor amino acids remains a major challenge. The attachment sites of the modification are difficult to localize by mass spectrometry (MS) because of the labile nature of the linkage and the complex fragmentation pattern of the ADP-ribose in MS/MS experiments. In this study we performed a comprehensive analysis of higher-energy collisional dissociation (HCD) spectra acquired from ADP-ribosylated peptides which were modified on arginine, serine, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, tyrosine, or lysine residues. In addition to the fragmentation of the peptide backbone, various cleavages of the ADP-ribosylated amino acid side chains were investigated. We focused on gas-phase fragmentations that were specific either to ADP-ribosylated arginine or to ADP-ribosylated serine and other O-linked ADP-ribosylations. The O-glycosidic linkage between ADP-ribose and serine, glutamic acid, or aspartic acid was the major cleavage site, making localization of these modification sites difficult. In contrast, the bond between ADP-ribose and arginine was relatively stable. The main cleavage site was the inner bond of the guanidine group, which resulted in the formation of ADP-ribosylated carbodiimide and of ornithine in place of modified arginine. Taking peptide fragment ions resulting from this specific cleavage into account, a considerably larger number of peptides containing ADP-ribosylated arginine were identified in database searches. Furthermore, the presence of diagnostic ions and of losses of fragments from peptide ions allowed us, in most cases, to distinguish between ADP-ribosylated arginine and serine residues.