Methylation of phospholipids (PL) leads to increased uniformity in positive electrospray ionization (ESI) efficiencies across the various PL subclasses. This effect is realized in the approach referred to as "trimethylation enhancement using 13C-diazomethane" (13C-TrEnDi), which results in the methyl esterification of all acidic sites and the conversion of amines to quaternary ammonium sites. Collision-induced dissociation (CID) of these cationic modified lipids enables class identification by forming distinctive headgroup fragments based on the number of 13C atoms incorporated during derivatization. However, there are no distinctive fragment ions in positive mode that provide fatty acyl information for any of the modified lipids. Gas-phase ion/ion reactions of 13C-TrEnDi-modified phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), phosphatidylserine (PS), phosphatidylcholine (PC), and sphingomyelin (SM) cations with dicarboxylate anions are shown to charge-invert the positively charged phospholipids to the negative mode. An electrostatically bound complex anion is shown to fragment predominantly via a novel headgroup dication transfer to the reagent anion. Fragmentation of the resulting anionic product yields fatty acyl information, in the case of the glycerophospholipids (PE, PS, and PC), via ester bond cleavage. Analogous information is obtained from modified SM lipid anions via amide bond cleavage. Fragmentation of the anions generated from charge inversion of the 13C-TrEnDi-modified phospholipids was also found to yield lipid class information without having to perform CID in positive mode. The combination of 13C-TrEnDi modification of lipid mixtures with charge inversion to the negative-ion mode retains the advantages of uniform ionization efficiency in the positive-ion mode with the additional structural information available in the negative-ion mode without requiring the lipids to be ionized directly in both ionization modes.

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Journal Analytical Chemistry
Betancourt, S.K. (Stella K.), Canez, C.R. (Carlos R.), Shields, S.W.J. (Samuel W. J.), Manthorpe, J.M, Smith, J. C, & McLuckey, S.A. (Scott A.). (2017). Trimethylation Enhancement Using 13C-Diazomethane: Gas-Phase Charge Inversion of Modified Phospholipid Cations for Enhanced Structural Characterization. Analytical Chemistry, 89(17), 9452–9458. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02271