Hydrogen/Deuterium and 16O/18O-Exchange Mass Spectrometry Boosting the Reliability of Compound Identification

Yury Kostyukevich, Alexander Zherebker, Alexey Orlov, Oxana Kovaleva, Tatyana Burykina, Boris Isotov, Evgeny N. Nikolaev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Accurate and reliable identification of chemical compounds is the ultimate goal of mass spectrometry analyses. Currently, identification of compounds is usually based on the measurement of the accurate mass and fragmentation spectrum, chromatographic elution time, and collisional cross section. Unfortunately, despite the growth of databases of experimentally measured MS/MS spectra (such as MzCloud and Metlin) and developing software for predicting MS/MS fragments in silico from SMILES patterns (such as MetFrag, CFM-ID, and Ms-Finder), the problem of identification is still unsolved. The major issue is that the elution time and fragmentation spectra depend considerably on the equipment used and are not the same for different LC-MS systems. It means that any additional descriptors depending only on the structure of the chemical compound will be of big help for LC-MS/MS-based omics. Our approach is based on the characterization of compounds by the number of labile hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the molecule, which can be measured using hydrogen/deuterium and 16O/18O-exchange approaches. The number of labile atoms (those from -OH, -NH, ═O, and -COOH groups) can be predicted from SMILES patterns and serves as an additional structural descriptor when performing a database search. In addition, distribution of isotope labels among MS/MS fragments can be roughly predicted by software such as MetFrag or CFM-ID. Here, we present an approach utilizing the selection of structural candidates from a database on the basis of the number of functional groups and analysis of isotope labels distribution among fragments. It was found that our approach allows reduction of the search space by a factor of 10 and considerably increases the reliability of the compound identification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6877-6885
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - 19 May 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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