Tandem mass spectrometry of ribonuclease A and B: N-linked glycosylation site analysis of whole protein ions
Recently, an approach for the 'top down' sequence analysis of whole protein ions has been developed, employing electrospray ionization, collision-induced dissociation, and ion/ion proton-transfer reactions in a quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer. This approach has now been extended to an analysis of the [M + 12H]12+ to [M + 5H]5+ ions of ribonuclease A and its N-linked glycosylated analogue, ribonuclease B, to determine the influence of the posttranslational modification on protein fragmentation. In agreement with previous studies on the fragmentation of a range of protein ions, facile gas-phase fragmentation was observed to occur along the protein backbone at the C-terminal of aspartic acid residues, and at the N-terminal of proline, depending on the precursor ion charge state. Interestingly, no evidence was found for gas-phase deglycosylation of the N-linked sugar in ribonuclease B, presumably due to effective competition from the facile amide bond cleavage channels that 'protect' the N-linked glycosidic bond from cleavage. Thus, localization of the posttranslational modification site may be determined by analysis of the 'protein fragment ion mass fingerprint'