Structural analysis of long chain polysaccharides by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) is challenging since these molecules do not contain readily ionizable groups. Their mass spectra are dominated by singly charged ions, limiting the detection of high molecular weight species. Derivatization can enhance ionization, but analyte loss on purification decreases sensitivity. We report a method based on nanoESI-MS and MS/MS by collision induced dissociation (CID) for underivatized long chain polysaccharides. The procedure was tested on underivatized polydisperse dextrans (average molecular weight 4,000) at 2.6 kV ESI voltage and CID MS/MS at energies between 30-60 eV. 113 ions corresponding to species from Glc2 to Glc35 were detected. Ions at m/z 1,409.48, 1,107.35 and 1,438.47, assigned to [G17+2Na]2+,[G20+H+Na+K]3+ and [G35+2H+Na+K]4+, were sequenced and characterized by MS/MS. The component containing 35 Glc repeats is the longest polysaccharide chain detected by ESI-MS and structurally analyzed by MS/MS without prior derivatization and/or separation.
Department of Chemistry and Biology, “Aurel Vlaicu” University of Arad, 310130 Arad, Romania; Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, National Institute for Research and Development in Electrochemistry and Condensed Matter, 300224 Timisoara, Romania
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