American Chemical Society
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To Jump or Not To Jump? Cα Hydrogen Atom Transfer in Post-cleavage Radical-Cation Complexes

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journal contribution
posted on 2013-02-14, 00:00 authored by Benjamin J. Bythell
Conventionally, electron capture or transfer to a polyprotonated peptide ion produces an initial radical-cation intermediate which dissociates “directly” to generate complementary cn′ and zm sequence ions (or ions and neutrals). Alternatively, or in addition, the initial radical-cation intermediate can undergo H migration to produce cn (or cn – H) and zm′ (or zm + H) species prior to complex separation (“nondirect”). This reaction significantly complicates spectral interpretation, creates ambiguity in peak assignment, impairs effective algorithmic processing (reduction of the spectrum to solely 12C m/z values), and reduces sequence ion signal-to-noise. Experimental evidence indicates that the products of hydrogen atom transfer reactions are substantially less prevalent for higher charge state precursors. This effect is generally rationalized on the basis of decreased complex lifetime. Here, we present a theoretical study of these reactions in post N–Cα bond cleavage radical-cation complexes as a function of size and precursor charge state. This approach provides a computational estimate of the barriers associated with these processes for highly charged peptides with little charge solvation. The data indicate that the H migration is an exothermic process and that the barrier governing this reaction rises steeply with precursor ion charge state. There is also some evidence for immediate product separation following N–Cα bond cleavage at higher charge state.