Mass Spectrometry in Biology


Applications of mass spectrometry in biological studies range from identifying expressed proteins using two‐dimensional gel electrophoresis to identifying those proteins involved in protein–protein interactions.

Keywords: protein identification; MALDI‐TOF; nijmegen breakage syndrome; protein complexes; protein localization

Figure 1.

Identification of proteins obtained in biological studies. Proteins from a study can be separated by one‐ or two‐dimensional gel electrophoresis and proteins identified using MALDI‐TOF and peptide mass mapping. Alternatively, peptides obtained by site‐specific digestion of proteins isolated from polyacrylamide gels can be analysed using tandem mass spectrometry. The tandem mass spectrometry data can then be used to search a database. A third method is to digest a protein mixture proteolytically and use microcapillary high‐performance liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry to generate fragmentation for individual peptides contained in the mixture. Tandem mass spectra, representing the amino acid sequences of peptides from the protein(s) present, are then used to search sequence databases. Proteins are identified when tandem mass spectra are matched to individual protein sequences.


Further Reading

Carney JP, Maser RS, Olivares H et al. (1998) The hMre11/hRad50 protein complex and Nijmegen breakage syndrome: linkage of double‐strand break repair to the cellular DNA damage response. Cell 93: 477–486.

James P (1997) Of genomes and proteomes. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 231: 1–6.

Link AJ, Hays LG, Carmack EB and Yates IJR (1997) Identifying the major proteome components of Haemophilus influenzae type‐strain NCTC 8143. Electrophoresis 18: 1314–1334.

Pappin DJC, Bleasby AJ, Sutton CW and Cottrell JS (1993) Rapid identification of proteins by database matching of proteolytic peptide masses. Protein Science 2 (supplement 1): 90.

Shevchenko A, Jensen ON, Podtelejnikov AV et al. (1996) Linking genome and proteome by mass spectrometry: large‐scale identification of yeast proteins from two dimensional gels. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 93: 14440–14445.

Wilkins MR, Williams KL, Appel RD and Hochstrasser DF (1997) Proteome Research: New Frontiers in Functional Genomics. Heidelberg: Springer‐Verlag.

Yates JR III (1998) Mass spectrometry and the age of the proteome. Journal of Mass Spectrometry 33: 1–19.

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How to Cite close
Yates, John R(Apr 2001) Mass Spectrometry in Biology. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000999]