Mass Spec Speeds Protein Sequencing

December 12, 2007

The Journal of Chemical Physics reports that researchers are aiming to selectively ionize molecules for mass spectrometry.

The Journal of Chemical Physics reports that researchers are aiming to selectively ionize molecules for mass spectrometry. The goal is to make protein sequencing a bit faster by combining the nice parts of mass spectrometry (speed) and enzyme digestion (specificity). In current systems, the protein molecule is shattered by a huge blast of energy and the mass of the charged fragments is measured. By understanding how proteins shatter, you can figure out a range of different sequences, which must then be refined by other techniques. This is very fast, but difficult to interpret. Since every chemical reaction involves breaking a bond and (usually) ionizing the fragments, the researchers decided to use pulse shaping to only break a specific bond in the protein backbone. The work holds some promise in speeding up the analysis of huge biomolecules, although still in the early stages.

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