Influence of salt bridge interactions on the gas-phase stability of DNA/peptide complexes

Sandra Alves, Amina Woods, Alice Delvolvé, Jean Claude Tabet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Negative ion mode electrospray ionization mass spectrometry was used to study DNA duplexes-peptide interaction. In the present study, we show that peptides that contain two adjacent basic residues interact noncovalently with DNA single strand or duplex. Fragmentation of the complexes between peptides containing basic residues and DNA were studied under collisions and showed unexpected dissociation pathways, as previously reported for peptide-peptide interactions. The binary complexes are dissociated either along fragmentation of the covalent bonds of the peptide backbone and/or along the single DNA strand backbone cleavage without disruption of noncovalent interaction, which demonstrates the strong binding of peptide to the DNA strand. Sequential MS/MS and MSn were further performed on ternary complexes formed between duplexes and peptides to investigate the nature of interaction. The CID spectra showed as major pathway the disruption of the noncovalent interactions and the formation of binary complexes and single-strand ions, directed by the nucleic acid gas-phase acidity. Indeed, a preferential formation of complexes with thymidine containing single strands is observed. An alternative pathway is also detected, in which complexes are dissociated along the covalent bond of the peptide and/or DNA according to the basicity. Our experimental data suggest the presence of strong salt bridge interactions between DNA and peptides containing basic residues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • ESI mass spectrometry
  • Noncovalent DNA-Peptide complex
  • Orbitrap
  • Salt bridge interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Instrumentation


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