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J Proteome Res. 2010 Apr 5;9(4):1931-40. doi: 10.1021/pr901089j.

Introduction of 4-chloro-alpha-cyanocinnamic acid liquid matrices for high sensitivity UV-MALDI MS.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and The BioCentre, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom.


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) is a key ionization technique in mass spectrometry (MS) for the analysis of labile macromolecules. An important area of study and improvements in relation to MALDI and its application in high-sensitivity MS is that of matrix design and sample preparation. Recently, 4-chloro-alpha-cyanocinnamic acid (ClCCA) has been introduced as a new rationally designed matrix and reported to provide an improved analytical performance as demonstrated by an increase in sequence coverage of protein digests obtained by peptide mass mapping (PMM) (Jaskolla, T. W.; et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2008, 105, 12200-12205). This new matrix shows the potential to be a superior alternative to the commonly used and highly successful alpha-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid (CHCA). We have taken this design one step further by developing and optimizing an ionic liquid matrix (ILM) and liquid support matrix (LSM) using ClCCA as the principle chromophore and MALDI matrix compound. These new liquid matrices possess greater sample homogeneity and a simpler morphology. The data obtained from our studies show improved sequence coverage for BSA digests compared to the traditional CHCA crystalline matrix and for the ClCCA-containing ILM a similar performance to the ClCCA crystalline matrix down to 1 fmol of BSA digest prepared in a single MALDI sample droplet with current sensitivity levels in the attomole range. The LSMs show a high tolerance to contamination such as ammonium bicarbonate, a commonly used buffering agent.

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