Monitoring Mass Spec Instrument Performance and Sample Preparation

LC/MS performance monitoring. Each run used 1μg of human predigested protein extract injected into the instrument (Waters NanoAquity HPLC System interfaced to a Thermo Fisher Q Exactive™ Hybrid Quadrupole-Orbitrap Mass Spectrometer). Peptides were resolved with a 2-hour gradient. Weekly monitoring with the human extract ensured consistent analytical performance of the instrument.

LC/MS performance monitoring. Each run used 1μg of human predigested protein extract injected into the instrument (Waters NanoAquity HPLC System interfaced to a Thermo Fisher Q Exactive™ Hybrid Quadrupole-Orbitrap Mass Spectrometer). Peptides were resolved with a 2-hour gradient. Weekly monitoring with the human extract ensured consistent analytical performance of the instrument.

Proteomics, the analysis of the entire protein content of a living system, has become a vital part of life science research, and mass spectrometry (MS) is the method for analyzing proteins.  MS analysis of protein content allows researchers to identify proteins, sequence them and determine the nature of post translational modifications.

Mass spectrometry allows characterization of molecules by converting them to ions so that they can be manipulated in electrical and magnetic fields. Basically a small sample (analyte) is ionized, usually to cations by loss of an electron. After ionization, the charged particles (ions) are separated by mass and charge;  the separated particles are measured and data displayed as a mass spectrum. The mass spectrum is typically presented as a bar graph where each peak represents a single charged particle having a specific mass-to-charge (m/z) ratio. The height of the peak represents the relative abundance of the particle. The number and relative abundance of the ions reveal how different parts of the molecule relate to each other.

For the study of large, organic macromolecules, matrix associated laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) or tandem mass spec/collision induced dissociation (MS/MS) techniques are often used to generate the charged particles from the analyte. MS analysis brings sensitivity and specificity to proteome analysis. The technique has excellent resolution and is able to distinguish one ion from another, even when their m/z ratios are similar. Macromolecules are present in extremely different concentrations in the cells, and MS analysis can detect biomolecules across five logs of concentration. Continue reading

ProteaseMAX Surfactant: Enhanced In-solution Digestion Applications

ProteaseMax 11228MAThe primary advantage of ProteaseMAX™ Surfactant is that it improves identification of proteins in gel by enhanced protein digestion, increased peptide extraction, and minimized post digestion peptide loss. However, ProteaseMAX™ Surfactant can also facilitate in-solution digestion protocols.

ProteaseMAX™ Surfactant offers two major benefits for digesting proteins in solution. Continue reading

Therapeutic Manipulation of N-glycan Branching: Promise in the Fight against MS?

Multiple Sclerosis is characterized by inflammatory demyelination and degeneration of the nervous system.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a horrible, debilitating disease that affects an estimated 3 million people world wide. My friend “Liz” is one of those 3 million. When I first met Liz, she was a bright bubbly young woman who loved crafts and entertaining. She had a huge room in her basement filled with rubber stamps, paper and other craft supplies. The first Christmas I knew her, she and her husband had four Christmas trees in their house. Liz decorated each tree with a different theme. Then abruptly she stopped appearing at the social functions she never missed. A year or so later came the news that she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Continue reading

Use of Multiple Proteases for Improved Protein Digestion

ResearchBlogging.orgOne of the approaches to identify proteins by mass spectrometry includes the separation of proteins by gel electrophoresis or liquid chromatography. Subsequently the proteins are cleaved with sequence-specific endoproteases. Following digestion the generated peptides are investigated by determination of molecular masses or specific sequence. For protein identification the experimentally obtained masses/sequences are compared with theoretical masses/sequences compiled in various databases.

Trypsin is the favored enzyme for this application, for the following reasons: A) the peptides contain a basic residue (Arg or Lys) on the C terminus and thus are good candidates for collision induced activation (CAD) in tandem experiments (low charge states and high mass-to-charge ratios); B) it is relatively Inexpensive; and C) optimal digestion conditions have been well characterized.

An inherent limitation of trypsin is the size of the peptides that it generates. For most organisms > 50% of tryptic peptides are less than 6 amino acids, too small for mass spectrometry based sequencing.

One recent publication examined the use of multiple proteases (trypsin, LysC, ArgC , AspN and GluC) in combination with either CAD or electron-based fragmentation (ETD) to improve protein identification (1). Their results indicated a significant improvement from a single protease digestion (trypsin), which yielded 27,822 unique peptides corresponding to 3313 proteins. In contrast using a combination of proteases with either CAD or ETD fragmentation methods yielded 92,095 unique peptides mapping to 3908 proteins.

Swaney DL, Wenger CD, & Coon JJ (2010). Value of using multiple proteases for large-scale mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Journal of proteome research, 9 (3), 1323-9 PMID: 20113005