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Characterisation and proposed origin of mass spectrometric ions observed 30Th above the ionised molecules of per-O-methylated carbohydrates

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JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
DatePublished - 2005
Issue number24
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)3681-3688
Original languageEnglish


Derivatisation of carbohydrates by permethylation significantly improves the mass spectrometric intensity of carbohydrate-derived ions and allows more readily interpretable fragmentation; in addition, samples are conveniently separated from salts, and larger oligosaccharides are more readily ionised. It has previously been recognised that, in the mass spectra of permtethylated carbohydrates, a series of ions indicating species 30 Da larger than the fully methylated carbohydrate molecules are also observed. These species have not been characterised in the literature despite their apparently ubiquitous occurrence in the mass spectra of permethylated carbohydrates. Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) experiments were performed on permethylated carbohydrates and reduced permethylated carbohydrates that exhibit the artefact, demonstrating that the artefact is not reducing terminal specific, and that the artefact can be introduced at any hydroxyl residue. It was further demonstrated through the use of different alkylation reagents that the origin of this artefact group is the alkylating reagent itself. It is proposed that side reactions that occur between the permethylation reagents allow the production of small amounts of iodomethyl methyl ether. This reagent can then compete with methyl iodide for reaction with the carbohydrate -OH groups. The result is partial incorporation of a methoxymethyl moiety instead of a methyl group, detected as '+30' artefact ions. Copyright (c) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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