Tuning oxidative modification by a strong electric field using nanoESI of highly conductive solutions near the minimum flow rate†
Oxidative modification is usually used in mass spectrometry (MS) for labeling and structural analysis. Here we report a highly tunable oxidation that can be performed in line with the nanoESI-MS analysis at the same ESI emitter without the use of oxidative reagents such as ozone and H2O2, and UV activation. The method is based on the high-pressure nanoESI of a highly conductive (conductivity >3.8 S m−1) aqueous solution near the minimum flow rate. The ion source is operated under super-atmospheric pressure (0.5 MPa gauge pressure) to avoid the contribution of electric discharge. The analyte at the tip of the Taylor cone or in the emitter droplet can be locally oxidized in an on-demand manner by varying the nanoflow rate. With an offline nanoESI, the degree of oxidation, i.e., the average number of incorporated oxygen atoms, can be finely tuned by voltage modulation using spray current as the feedback signal. Oxidations of easily oxidized residues present in peptides/proteins and the double bonds of the unsaturated phosphatidylcholine occur at low flow rate operation (<5 nL min−1) when the electric field at the tip of the Taylor cone and the initially produced charged droplet reaches approximately 1.3 V nm−1. The oxidized ion signal responds instantaneously to changes in flow rate, indicating that the oxidation is highly localized. Using isotope labeling, it was found that the incorporated oxygen primarily originates from the gas phase, suggesting a direct oxidation pathway for the analyte enriched on the liquid surface via the reactive oxygen atoms formed by the strong electric field.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2023 Chemical Science HOT Article Collection