The Value of Activated Ion Electron Transfer Dissociation for High-Throughput Top-Down Characterization of Intact Proteins

Nicholas M. Riley, Jacek W. Sikora, Henrique S. Seckler, Joseph B. Greer, Ryan T. Fellers, Richard D. Leduc, Michael S. Westphall, Paul M. Thomas, Neil L. Kelleher, Joshua J. Coon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


High-throughput top-down proteomic experiments directly identify proteoforms in complex mixtures, making high quality tandem mass spectra necessary to deeply characterize proteins with many sources of variation. Collision-based dissociation methods offer expedient data acquisition but often fail to extensively fragment proteoforms for thorough analysis. Electron-driven dissociation methods are a popular alternative approach, especially for precursor ions with high charge density. Combining infrared photoactivation concurrent with electron transfer dissociation (ETD) reactions, i.e., activated ion ETD (AI-ETD), can significantly improve ETD characterization of intact proteins, but benefits of AI-ETD have yet to be quantified in high-throughput top-down proteomics. Here, we report the first application of AI-ETD to LC-MS/MS characterization of intact proteins (<20 kDa), highlighting improved proteoform identification the method offers over higher energy-collisional dissociation (HCD), standard ETD, and ETD followed by supplemental HCD activation (EThcD). We identified 935 proteoforms from 295 proteins from human colorectal cancer cell line HCT116 using AI-ETD compared to 1014 proteoforms, 915 proteoforms, and 871 proteoforms with HCD, ETD, and EThcD, respectively. Importantly, AI-ETD outperformed each of the three other methods in MS/MS success rates and spectral quality metrics (e.g., sequence coverage achieved and proteoform characterization scores). In all, this four-method analysis offers the most extensive comparisons to date and demonstrates that AI-ETD both increases identifications over other ETD methods and improves proteoform characterization via higher sequence coverage, positioning it as a premier method for high-throughput top-down proteomics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8553-8560
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 17 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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