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Unambiguous Identification of Serine and Threonine Pyrophosphorylation Using Neutral-Loss-Triggered Electron-Transfer/Higher-Energy Collision Dissociation

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journal contribution
posted on 20.02.2017, 00:00 by Martin Penkert, Lisa M. Yates, Michael Schümann, David Perlman, Dorothea Fiedler, Eberhard Krause
Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) has emerged as the core technology for identification of post-translational modifications (PTMs). Here, we report the mass spectrometry analysis of serine and threonine pyrophosphorylation, a protein modification that has eluded detection by conventional MS/MS methods. Analysis of a set of synthesized, site-specifically modified peptides by different fragmentation techniques shows that pyrophosphorylated peptides exhibit a characteristic neutral loss pattern of 98, 178, and 196 Da, which enables the distinction between isobaric pyro- and diphosphorylated peptides. In addition, electron-transfer dissociation combined with higher energy collision dissociation (EThcD) provides exceptional data-rich MS/MS spectra for direct and unambiguous pyrophosphosite assignment. Remarkably, sufficient fragmentation of doubly charged precursors could be achieved by electron-transfer dissociation (ETD) with increased supplemental activation, without losing the labile modification. By exploiting the specific fragmentation behavior of pyrophosphorylated peptides during collision-induced dissociation (CID), a data dependent neutral-loss-triggered EThcD acquisition method was developed. This strategy enables reliable pyrophosphopeptide identification in complex samples, without compromising speed and sensitivity.