Eric B. Monroe, John C. Jurchen, Beth Anne Koszczuk, Jenna L. Losh, Stanislav S. Rubakhin, and
Jonathan V. Sweedler
Anal. Chem. 2006, 78(19), pp 6826-6832
Investigation of the peptidome of the nervous system containing large, often easily identifiable neurons has greatly benefited from single-cell matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry and has led to the discovery of hundreds of novel cell-to-cell signaling peptides. By combining new sample preparation methods and established protocols for bioanalytical mass spectrometry, a high-throughput, small-volume approach is created that allows the study of the peptidome of a variety of nervous systems. Specifically, approximately single-cell-sized samples are rapidly prepared from thin tissue slices by adhering the tissue section to a glass bead array that is anchored to a stretchable membrane. Stretching the membrane fragments the tissue slice into thousands of individual samples, their dimensions predominately governed by the size of the individual glass beads. Application of MALDI matrix, followed by the repeated condensation of liquid microdroplets on the fragmented tissue, allows for maximal analyte extraction and incorporation into MALDI matrix crystals. During extraction, analyte migration between the pieces of tissue on separate beads is prevented by the underlying hydrophobic substrate and by controlling the size of the condensation droplets. The procedure, while general in nature, may be tailored to the needs of a variety of analyses, producing mass spectra equivalent to those acquired from single-cell samples.