Identification of phenylthiocarbamyl amino acids for compositional analysis by thermospray liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry

Bikash C. Pramanik, Carolyn R. Moomaw, Claudia T. Evans, Steven A. Cohen, Clive A. Slaughter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The chromatographic separation of amino acids for compositional analysis of peptides and proteins is commonly performed by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography of amino acid residues that have been derivatized with phenylisothiocyanate. The present report describes an extension of this method, which employs thermospray liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry to confirm the identification of the resulting phenylthiocarbamyl (PTC) amino acids. A standard HPLC separation method has been adapted for use with the thermospray technique, and on-column mass spectra of standard synthetic PTC-amino acids have been acquired. These spectra show characteristic fragmentation patterns not seen in the corresponding cyclic phenylthiohydantoin amino acid derivatives. The LC/MS method has been tested on hydrolysates of bovine serum albumin, porcine insulin, and human placental collagen. In each case, the mass spectra of components eluting with the same retention times as the standard PTC-amino acids are similar to those observed in the standard amino acid mixture. Other components display mass spectra that can be interpreted in terms of known in vivo or in vitro modifications to amino acid side chains in these proteins. The LC/MS method has assisted in the identification of by-products of the derivatization reaction. It has also been applied to a study in which an enzyme, citrate synthase, isolated from porcine heart, was compared to the protein expressed by a recombinant porcine citrate synthase gene in Escherichia coli. The data showed that the recombinant protein lacks a modified residue, trimethyllysine, which is present in the enzyme expressed in mammalian tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-277
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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