Identification of epoxide functionalities in protonated monofunctional analytes by using ion/molecule reactions and collision-activated dissociation in different ion trap tandem mass spectrometers.
Analysis of the sites of reaction of a biologically important compound, pilocarpine, a molecule with imidazole and butyrolactone rings connected by a methylene bridge, has been accomplished in a quadrupole ion trap with the aim of characterizing its structure/reactivity relationships. Ion-molecule reactions of pilocarpine with chemical ionizing agents, dimethyl ether (DME), 2-methoxyethanol, and trimethyl borate (TMB), along with collision-activated dissociation elucidated the reaction sites of pilocarpine and made possible the comparison of structural features that affect sites of reaction. Based on MS/MS experiments, methylation occurs on the imidazole ring upon reactions with CH3OCH2+ or (CH3OCH2CH2OH)H+ ions but methylation occurs on the lactone ring for reactions with (CH3O)2B+ ions. Bracketing experiments with two model compounds, alpha-methyl-gamma-butyrolactone and N-methyl imidazole, show the imidazole ring to have a greater gas-phase basicity and methyl cation affinity than the lactone ring. The contrast of methylation by TMB ions on the lactone ring is explained by initial addition of the dimethoxyborinium ion, (CH3O)2B+, on the imidazole ring with subsequent collisional activation promoting an intramolecular transfer of a methyl group to the lactone ring with concurrent loss of CH3OBO. Semiempirical molecular orbital calculations are undertaken to further address the favored reaction sites.