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Nat Protoc. 2011 Oct 13;6(11):1695-709. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2011.388.

Proteomic analysis of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue by MALDI imaging mass spectrometry.

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Mass Spectrometry Research Center, Department of Biochemistry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.


Archived formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue collections represent a valuable informational resource for proteomic studies. Multiple FFPE core biopsies can be assembled in a single block to form tissue microarrays (TMAs). We describe a protocol for analyzing protein in FFPE-TMAs using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS). The workflow incorporates an antigen retrieval step following deparaffinization, in situ trypsin digestion, matrix application and then mass spectrometry signal acquisition. The direct analysis of FFPE-TMA tissue using IMS allows direct analysis of multiple tissue samples in a single experiment without extraction and purification of proteins. The advantages of high speed and throughput, easy sample handling and excellent reproducibility make this technology a favorable approach for the proteomic analysis of clinical research cohorts with large sample numbers. For example, TMA analysis of 300 FFPE cores would typically require 6 h of total time through data acquisition, not including data analysis.

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