Sequencing cyclic peptide inhibitors of mammalian ribonucleotide reductase by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry

Shanhua Lin, Sebastian Liehr, Barry S. Cooperman, Robert J. Cotter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mammalian ribonucleotide reductase (mRR) is a potential target for cancer intervention. A series of lactam-bridged cyclic peptide inhibitors (1-9) of mRR have been synthesized and tested in previous work. These inhibitors consist of cyclic and linear regions, causing their mass spectral characterization to be a challenge. We determined the fragmentation mechanism of cyclic peptides 1-9 using an ion-trap mass spectrometer equipped with an ESI source. Low-energy collision-induced dissociation of sodiated cyclic peptides containing linear branches follows a general pathway. Fragmentation of the linear peptide region produced mainly a and b ions. The ring peptide region was more stable and ring opening required higher collision energy, mainly occurring at the amide bond adjacent to the lactam bridge. The sodium ion, which bound to the carbonyl oxygen of the lactam bridge, acted as a fixed charge site and directed a charge-remote, sequence-specific fragmentation of the ring-opened peptide. Amino acid residues were cleaved sequentially from the C-terminus to the N-terminus. Our findings have established a new way to sequence cyclic peptides containing a lactam bridge based on charge-remote fragmentation. This methodology will permit unambiguous identification of high-affinity ligands within cyclic peptide libraries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-663
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Mass Spectrometry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Charge-remote fragmentation
  • Collision-induced dissociation
  • Cyclic peptide
  • Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry
  • Mammalian ribonucleotide reductase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Spectroscopy


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