• Dörner, S.; Schwob, L.; Atak, K.; Schubert, K.; Boll, R.; Schlathölter, T.; Timm, M.; Bülow, C.; Zamudio-Bayer, V.; von Issendorff, B.; Lau, J.T.; Techert, S.; Bari, S.: Probing Structural Information of Gas-Phase Peptides by Near-Edge X-ray Absorption Mass Spectrometry. Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry 32 (2021), p. 670-684

Open Accesn Version

Near-edge X-ray absorption mass spectrometry (NEXAMS) is an action-spectroscopy technique of growing interest for investigations into the spatial and electronic structure of biomolecules. It has been used successfully to give insights into different aspects of the photodissociation of peptides and to probe the conformation of proteins. It is a current question whether the fragmentation pathways are sensitive toward effects of conformational isomerism, tautomerism, and intramolecular interactions in gas-phase peptides. To address this issue, we studied the cationic fragments of cryogenically cooled gas-phase leucine enkephalin ([LeuEnk+H]+) and methionine enkephalin ([MetEnk+H]+) produced upon soft X-ray photon absorption at the carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen K-edges. The interpretation of the experimental ion yield spectra was supported by density-functional theory and restricted-open-shell configuration interaction with singles (DFT/ROCIS) calculations. The analysis revealed several effects that could not be rationalized based on the peptide’s amino acid sequences alone. Clear differences between the partial ion yields measured for both peptides upon C 1s → π*(C═C) excitations in the aromatic amino acid side chains give evidence for a sulfur–aromatic interaction between the methionine and phenylalanine side chain of [MetEnk+H]+. Furthermore, a peak associated with N 1s → π*(C═N) transitions, linked to a tautomeric keto-to-enol conversion of peptide bonds, was only present in the photon energy resolved ion yield spectra of [MetEnk+H]+.