Absolute Quantitation of Oxidizable Peptides by Coulometric Mass Spectrometry

Pengyi Zhao, Richard N. Zare, Hao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Quantitation methods for peptides using mass spectrometry have advanced rapidly. These methods rely on using standard and/or isotope-labeled peptides, which might be difficult or expensive to synthesize. To tackle this challenge, we present a new approach for absolute quantitation without the use of standards or calibration curves based on coulometry combined with mass spectrometry (MS). In this approach, which we call coulometric mass spectrometry (CMS), the mass spectrum of a target peptide containing one or more tyrosine residues is recorded before and after undergoing electrochemical oxidation. We record the total integrated oxidation current from the electrochemical measurement, which according to the Faraday’s Law of coulometry, provides the number of moles of oxidized peptide. The ion intensity ratio of the target peptide before and after oxidation provides an excellent estimate of the fraction of the peptide that has been oxidized, from which the total amount of peptide is calculated. The striking strength of CMS is that it needs no standard peptide, but CMS does require the peptide to contain a known number of oxidizable groups. To illustrate the power of this method, we analyzed various tyrosine-containing peptides such as GGYR, DRVY, oxytocin, [Arg8]-vasotocin and angiotensinogen 1–14 with a quantification error ranging from − 7.5 to + 2.4%. This approach is also applicable to quantifying phosphopeptides and could be useful in proteomics research. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2398-2407
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Spectroscopy


  • Coulometry
  • Electrochemistry
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Peptide
  • Quantitation


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