Analysis of phenylthiohydantoin amino acid mixtures for sequencing by thermospray liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry

Bikash C. Pramanik, Stephen M. Hinton, David S. Millington, Theodore A. Dourdeville, Clive A. Slaughter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Phenylthiohydantoin (PTH) amino acids, the derivatives of amino acids liberated in the course of automated N-terminal sequence analysis of peptides and proteins, are most commonly identified by high-performance liquid chromatography. This communication describes an extension to the methodology for PTH amino acid identification which exploits thermospray liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry for use in the confirmation of PTH amino acid identifications previously made solely on the basis of retention times. Thermospray mass spectra of the 19 synthetic PTH amino acids corresponding to the residues commonly observed during N-terminal sequencing have been acquired. These spectra show strong signals for the protonated molecular ion, accompanied in several cases by ions produced by limited fragmentation of the amino acid side chain and/or the PTH ring system. A reverse-phase separation protocol has been adapted for use with thermospray. The method permits recognition of the protonated molecular ions of all the standard PTH amino acids at the 150-pmol level on the basis of signalto-noise ratios of 10:1 or better with full scanning. The method has been tested on the N-terminal amino acid sequence analysis of 200 pmol of the standard protein β-lactoglobulin A, and has been found useful in the study of selected side-products of the sequencing chemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-318
Number of pages14
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 15 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry
  • phenylthiohydantoin amino acids
  • protein sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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