Detection and Site Localization of Phosphorylcholine-Modified Peptides by NanoLC-ESI-MS/MS Using Precursor Ion Scanning and Multiple Reaction Monitoring Experiments.

Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

PubMedID: 25487775

Timm T, Lenz C, Merkel D, Sadiffo C, Grabitzki J, Klein J, Lochnit G. Detection and Site Localization of Phosphorylcholine-Modified Peptides by NanoLC-ESI-MS/MS Using Precursor Ion Scanning and Multiple Reaction Monitoring Experiments. J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2014;.
Phosphorylcholine (PC)-modified biomolecules like lipopolysaccharides, glycosphingolipids, and (glyco)proteins are widespread, highly relevant antigens of parasites, since this small hapten shows potent immunomodulatory capacity, which allows the establishment of long-lasting infections of the host. Especially for PC-modified proteins, structural data is rare because of the zwitterionic nature of the PC substituent, resulting in low sensitivities and unusual but characteristic fragmentation patterns. We have developed a targeted mass spectrometric approach using hybrid triple quadrupole/linear ion trap (QTRAP) mass spectrometry coupled to nanoflow chromatography for the sensitive detection of PC-modified peptides from complex proteolytic digests, and the localization of the PC-modification within the peptide backbone. In a first step, proteolytic digests are screened using precursor ion scanning for the marker ions of choline (m/z 104.1) and phosphorylcholine (m/z 184.1) to establish the presence of PC-modified peptides. Potential PC-modified precursors are then subjected to a second analysis using multiple reaction monitoring (MRM)-triggered product ion spectra for the identification and site localization of the modified peptides. The approach was first established using synthetic PC-modified synthetic peptides and PC-modified model digests. Following the optimization of key parameters, we then successfully applied the method to the detection of PC-peptides in the background of a proteolytic digest of a whole proteome. This methodological invention will greatly facilitate the detection of PC-substituted biomolecules and their structural analysis.