Mechanistic Study into Free Radical-Activated Glycan Dissociations through Isotope-Labeled Cellobioses

Kimberly Fabijanczuk, Zaikuan Josh Yu, Rose M. Bakestani, Rayan Murtada, Nicholas Denton, Kaylee Gaspar, Tara Otegui, Jose Acosta, Hilkka I. Kenttämaa, Henk Eshuis, Jinshan Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inspired by the electron-activated dissociation technique, the most potent tool for glycan characterization, we recently developed free radical reagents for glycan structural elucidation. However, the underlying mechanisms of free radical-induced glycan dissociation remain unclear and, therefore, hinder the rational optimization of the free radical reagents and the interpretation of tandem mass spectra, especially the accurate assignment of the relatively low-abundant but information-rich ions. In this work, we selectively incorporate the 13C and/or 18O isotopes into cellobiose to study the mechanisms for free radical-induced dissociation of glycans. The eight isotope-labeled cellobioses include 1-13C, 3-13C, 1′-13C, 2′-13C, 3′-13C, 4′-13C, 5′-13C, and 1′-13C-4-18O-cellobioses. Upon one-step collisional activation, cross-ring (X ions), glycosidic bond (Y-, Z-, and B-related ions), and combinational (Y1 + 0,4X0 ion) cleavages are generated. These fragment ions can be unambiguously assigned and confirmed by the mass difference of isotope labeling. Importantly, the relatively low-abundant but information-rich ions, such as 1,5X0 + H, 1,4X0 + H, 2,4X0 + H-OH, Y1 + 0,4X02,5X1-H, 3,5X0-H, 0,3X0-H, 1,4X0-H, and B2-3H, are confidently assigned. The mechanisms for the formations of these ions are investigated and supported by quantum chemical calculations. These ions are generally initiated by hydrogen abstraction followed by sequential β-elimination and/or radical migration. Here, the mechanistic study for free radical-induced glycan dissociation allows us to interpret all of the free radical-induced fragment ions accurately and, therefore, enables the differentiation of stereochemical isomers. Moreover, it provides fundamental knowledge for the subsequent development of bioinformatics tools to interpret the complex free radical-induced glycan spectra.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2932-2941
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 7 Feb 2023


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