Combined Tandem Mass Spectrometry and Ion Mobility Spectrometry in Proteome Analyses

  • Ross Chawner

Student thesis: Phd


Proteomic studies aim to identify, quantify and characterise the full complement of proteins in a cell or organism under a defined set of conditions, and are important to our understanding of cellular mechanisms. However, such studies represent a major analytical challenge. A typical proteome analysis involves enzyme-mediated digestion of complex protein mixtures to yield an even more complex mixture of peptides. Combined reverse-phase liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry is then traditionally utilised to ascertain sequence information from the characteristic peptide sequences. Analytical data derived for the peptides are employed as search terms in database searching of protein sequences derived from gene sequences. The extreme complexity of the peptide mixtures analysed means that additional novel approaches are required to fully interrogate the vast number of tandem mass spectra generated, assigning peptide identity and thereby helping to address demanding biological questions. The research reported here aims to further our understanding of both gas phase peptide/peptide fragment ion structure and peptide fragmentation behaviour using a combination of tandem mass spectrometry and ion mobility measurement.To facilitate the determination of peptide ion collision cross section, a novel standard, QCAL-IM, produced using the QconCAT strategy, has been developed to enable calibration of drift time in Travelling Wave Ion Mobility instruments. The standard facilitates empirical determination of the rotationally averaged collision cross section of any peptide/peptide fragment ion that lies within the calibration range encompassed. QCAL-IM was subsequently utilised to determine the collision cross section of a range of peptide ions produced by Lys-C and Lys-N proteolysis of 'standard' proteins. Data produced allowed the effect upon gas phase ion conformation through changing the location of the basic residue lysine within a peptide sequence to be assessed.The fragmentation behaviour of peptide ions produced by a variety of digestion regimes during both collision-induced dissociation (CID) and electron transfer dissociation (ETD) has also been extensively studied. The proteases trypsin and Lys-C are those typically utilised during proteomic studies and peptides produced by each have either the basic residues arginine or lysine at their carboxy-terminus. Secondary enzymatic treatment with the exoprotease carboxypeptidase B cleaves these basic residues from the C-terminus. Tandem mass spectrometric analysis of both tryptic/Lys-C peptides and their CBPB truncated analogue highlights that the dominant fragment ion series observed during both CID and ETD is determined, at least in part, by the location of such basic residues.Finally, studies were undertaken to investigate the factors which may promote/inhibit scrambling of peptide fragment ion sequence, which has recently been shown to take place during CID. The effect of modifying the gas phase basicity of the N-terminal amino acid residue is studied through a combination of derivatisation and synthesis of alternative peptide sequences. Increasing the gas phase basicity is shown to inhibit the observed sequence scrambling while promoting concomitant rearrangement/retention of a carboxyl oxygen at the C-terminus to give enhanced formation of bn+H2O product ion species.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorClaire Eyers (Supervisor)


  • Collision Cross Section
  • Peptide Fragmentation
  • Electron Transfer Dissociation
  • Ion Mobility
  • T-Wave Ion Mobility
  • Collision-Induced Dissociation
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry

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