Capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry of intact basic proteins using Polybrene-dextran sulfate-Polybrene-coated capillaries: System optimization and performance
A capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry (CE-MS) method using sheath liquid electrospray ionization interfacing was studied and optimized for the analysis of intact basic proteins. To prevent protein adsorption, capillaries with a noncovalent positively charged coating were utilized. Capillaries were coated by subsequent rinsing with solutions of Polybrene, dextran sulfate and Polybrene. The coating proved to be fully compatible with MS detection, causing no background signals and ionization suppression. The composition of the sheath liquid and BGE was optimized using the model proteins @a-chymotrypsinogen A, ribonuclease A, lysozyme and cytochrome c. A sheath liquid of isopropanol-water-acetic acid (75:25:0.1, v/v/v) at 2@mLmin^-^1 resulted in optimal signal intensities for most proteins, but caused dissociation of the heme group of cytochrome c. Optimum protein responses were obtained with a BGE of 50mM acetic acid (pH 3.0), which allowed a baseline separation of the test protein mixture. Several minor impurities present in the mixture could be detected and provisionally identified using accurate mass and a protein modification database. The selectivity of the CE-MS system was investigated by the analysis of acetylated lysozyme. Eight highly related species, identified as non-acetylated lysozyme and lysozyme acetylated in various degrees, could be distinguished. The CE-MS system showed good reproducibility yielding interday (three weeks period) RSDs for migration time and peak area within 2% and 10%, respectively. With the CE-MS system, determination coefficients (R^2) for protein concentration and peak area were higher than 0.996, whereas detection limits were between 11 and 19nM.
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