Protein mass spectrometry
refers to the application of mass spectrometry
to the study of proteins. Mass spectrometry
is an important method for the accurate mass determination and characterization of proteins, and a variety of methods and instrumentations have been developed for its many uses. Its applications include the identification of proteins and their post-translational modifications, the elucidation of protein complexes, their subunits and functional interactions, as well as the global measurement of proteins in proteomics. It can also be used to localize proteins to the various organelles, and determine the interactions between different proteins as well as with membrane lipids.
The two primary methods used for the ionization of protein in mass spectrometry
are electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI). These ionization techniques are used in conjunction with mass analyzers such as tandem mass spectrometry. In general, the protein are analyzed either in a "top-down" approach in which proteins are analyzed intact, or a "bottom-up" approach in which protein are first digested into fragments. An intermediate "middle-down" approach in which larger peptide fragments are analyzed may also sometimes be used. Mass spectrometry
of proteins requires that the proteins in solution or solid state be turned into an ionized form in the gas phase before they are injected and accelerated in an electric or magnetic field for analysis. The two primary methods for ionization of proteins are electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI). In electrospray, the ions are created from proteins in solution, and it allows fragile molecules to be ionized intact, sometimes preserving non-covalent interactions. In MALDI, the proteins are embedded within a matrix normally in a solid form, and ions are created by pulses of laser light. Electrospray produces more multiply-charged ions than MALDI, allowing for measurement of high mass protein and better fragmentation for identification, while MALDI is fast and less likely to be affected by contaminants, buffers and additives. Whole-protein mass analysis is primarily conducted using either time-of-flight (TOF) MS, or Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FT-ICR). These two types of instrument are preferable here because of their wide mass range, and in the case of FT-ICR, its high mass accuracy. Electrospray ionization of a protein often results in generation of multiple charged species
of 800 < m/z < 2000 and the resultant spectrum can be deconvoluted to determine the protein's average mass to within 50 ppm or better using TOF or ion-trap instruments.
Relevant Topics in Medical Sciences