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Anal Chem. 2003 Oct 15;75(20):5306-16.

Low-attomole electrospray ionization MS and MS/MS analysis of protein tryptic digests using 20-microm-i.d. polystyrene-divinylbenzene monolithic capillary columns.

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Barnett Institute and Department of Chemistry, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


This work explores the use of 20-microm-i.d. polymeric polystyrene-divinylbenzene monolithic nanocapillary columns for the LC-ESI-MS analysis of tryptic digest peptide mixtures. In contrast to the packing of microparticles, capillary columns were prepared, without the need of high pressure, in fused-silica capillaries, by thermally induced in situ copolymerization of styrene and divinylbenzene. The polymerization conditions and mobile-phase composition were optimized for chromatographic performance leading to efficiencies over 100000 plates/m for peptide separations. High mass sensitivity (approximately 10 amol of peptides) in the MS and MS/MS modes using an ion trap MS was found, a factor of up to 20-fold improvement over 75-microm-i.d. nanocolumns. A wide linear dynamic range (approximately 4 orders of magnitude) was achieved, and good run-to-run and column-to-column reproducibility of isocratic and gradient elution separations were found. As samples, both model proteins and tissue extracts were employed. Gradient nano-LC-MS analysis of a proteolytic digest of a tissue extract, equivalent to a sample size of approximately 1000 cells injected, is presented.

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