Volume 25 (2009) Issue 8 Pages 953-960
The history from bio-imaging to live single-cell mass spectrometry (MS) is herein reviewed. The limitation of the current bio-imaging method is probing only known molecules, and a method for finding new molecules is needed for cells which, however, show individual behaviors even in the same incubation dish. Single-cell MALDI-TOF/MS has been developed, but it can detect only molecules that can be easily ionized, and not be exhaustive. Recently, the contents of a single cell have been sucked out by a nano-electro spray tip, and directly introduced into MS by nano-spray ionization. Thousands of molecular peaks have been successfully and exhaustively detected, and an extraction method for key molecules was also developed. This new method is now being widely applied to explore site- or state-specific molecules in various aspects of cell dynamisms.