Stochasticity of poly(2-oxazoline) oligomer hydrolysis determined by tandem mass spectrometry†
Understanding modification of synthetic polymer structures is necessary for their accurate synthesis and potential applications. In this contribution, a series of partially hydrolyzed poly(2-oxazoline) species were produced forming poly[(2-polyoxazoline)-co-(ethylenimine)] (P(EtOx-co-EI)) copolymers; EI being the hydrolyzed product of Ox. Bulk mass spectrometry (MS) measurements accurately measured the EI content. Tandem mass spectrometry analysis of the EI content in the copolymer samples determined the distribution of each monomer within the copolymer and corresponded to a theoretically modelled random distribution. The EI distribution across the polymers was shown to be effected by the choice of terminus, with a permanent hydrolysis event observed at an OH terminus. A neighbouring group effect wasn't observed at the polymer length analysed (approximately 25-mer species), suggesting that previously observed neighbouring group effects require a larger polymer chain. Although clearly useful for random polymer distribution this approach may be applied to many systems containing non-specific modifications to determine if they are directed or random locations across peptides, proteins, polymers, and nucleic acids.