Hydrogen Rearrangement Rules: Computational MS/MS Fragmentation and Structure Elucidation Using MS-FINDER Software

Hiroshi Tsugawa, Tobias Kind, Ryo Nakabayashi, Daichi Yukihira, Wataru Tanaka, Tomas Cajka, Kazuki Saito, Oliver Fiehn, Masanori Arita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

235 Scopus citations


Compound identification from accurate mass MS/MS spectra is a bottleneck for untargeted metabolomics. In this study, we propose nine rules of hydrogen rearrangement (HR) during bond cleavages in low-energy collision-induced dissociation (CID). These rules are based on the classic even-electron rule and cover heteroatoms and multistage fragmentation. We evaluated our HR rules by the statistics of MassBank MS/MS spectra in addition to enthalpy calculations, yielding three levels of computational MS/MS annotation: "resolved" (regular HR behavior following HR rules), "semiresolved" (irregular HR behavior), and "formula-assigned" (lacking structure assignment). With this nomenclature, 78.4% of a total of 18506 MS/MS fragment ions in the MassBank database and 84.8% of a total of 36370 MS/MS fragment ions in the GNPS database were (semi-) resolved by predicted bond cleavages. We also introduce the MS-FINDER software for structure elucidation. Molecular formulas of precursor ions are determined from accurate mass, isotope ratio, and product ion information. All isomer structures of the predicted formula are retrieved from metabolome databases, and MS/MS fragmentations are predicted in silico. The structures are ranked by a combined weighting score considering bond dissociation energies, mass accuracies, fragment linkages, and, most importantly, nine HR rules. The program was validated by its ability to correctly calculate molecular formulas with 98.0% accuracy for 5063 MassBank MS/MS records and to yield the correct structural isomer with 82.1% accuracy within the top-3 candidates. In a test with 936 manually identified spectra from an untargeted HILIC-QTOF MS data set of human plasma, formulas were correctly predicted in 90.4% of the cases, and the correct isomer structure was retrieved at 80.4% probability within the top-3 candidates, including for compounds that were absent in mass spectral libraries. The MS-FINDER software is freely available at http://prime.psc.riken.jp/.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7946-7958
Number of pages13
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 16 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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