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Electrospray ionization mass spectrometric analysis of microcystins, cyclic heptapeptide hepatotoxins: modulation of charge states and [M + H]+to [M + Na]+ratio

Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s1044-0305(99)00088-4


Abstract Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry was used to develop a rapid, sensitive, and accurate method for determination and identification of hepatotoxic microcystins, cyanobacterial cyclic heptapeptides. To optimize the electrospray ionization conditions, factors affecting charge state distribution, such as amino acid components of sample, proton affinity of the additives, and additive concentration, were investigated in detail and a method for controlling charge states was developed to provide molecular-related ions for assignment of molecular weight and reasonably abundant precursor ions for MS/MS analysis. A procedure for identification of microcystins consisting of known amino acids was proposed: for microcystins giving abundant [M + 2H] 2+ ions, the addition of nitrogen-containing bases to the aqueous sample solution is effective to obtain an increased intensity of [M + H] + ions, whereas the addition of Lewis acids containing nitrogen can produce increased abundances of [M + 2H] 2+ ions for microcystins giving weak [M + 2H] 2+ ions. Microcystins possessing no arginine residue always give sodium adduct ions [M + Na] + as the base peak, and these are difficult to fragment via low energy collision-induced dissociation to yield structurally informative products; the addition of oxalic acid increases [M + H] + ion abundances, and these fragment readily.

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