Doubly protonated ions of the disulfide bond containing nonapeptide hormone oxytocin and oxytocin complexes with different transition metal ions, that have biological relevance under physiological conditions, were subjected to electron capture dissociation (ECD) to probe their structural features in the gas phase. Although, all the ECD spectra were strikingly different, typical ECD behavior was observed for complexes of the nonapeptide hormone oxytocin with Ni2+, Co2+ and Zn2+, i.e., abundant c/z'. and a'./y backbone cleavages and ECD characteristic S-S and S-C bond cleavages were observed. We propose that, although in the oxytocin-transition metal ion complexes the metal ions serve as the main initial capture site, the captured electron is transferred to other sites in the complex to form a hydrogen radical, which drives the subsequent typical ECD fragmentations. The complex of oxytocin with Cu2+ displayed noticeably different ECD behavior. The fragment ions were similar to fragment ions typically observed with low-energy collision induced dissociation (CID). We propose that the electrons captured by the oxytocin-Cu2+ complex might be favorably involved in reducing the Cu2+ metal ion to Cu+. Subsequent energy redistribution would explain the observed low-energy CID-type fragmentations. Electron capture resulted also in quite different specific cleavage sites for the complexes of oxytocin with Ni2+, Co2+ and Zn2+. This is an indication for structural differences in these complexes possibly linked to their significantly different biological effects on oxytocin-receptor binding, and suggests that ECD may be used to study subtle structural differences in transition metal ion-peptide complexes.

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Journal Int. J. Mass Spectrom.
Kleinnijenhuis, A.J, Mihalca, R, Heeren, R.M.A, & Heck, A.J.R. (2006). Atypical behavior in the electron capture induced dissociation of biologically relevant transition metal ion complexes of the peptide hormone oxytocin. Int. J. Mass Spectrom., 253, 217–224. doi:10.1016/j.ijms.2006.03.005