The paper has three parts, (i) a brief overview of the main achievements made using mass spectrometry across all the fields of science, (ii) a survey of some of the topics currently being pursued most activity, including both applications and fundamental studies, and (iii) some hints as to what the future of mass spectrometry might hold with particular emphasis on revolutionary changes in the subject. Emphasis is given to ambient methods of ionization and their use in disease diagnosis and to their use in combination with miniature mass spectrometers for in-situ measurements. Special attention goes to the chemical aspects of mass spectrometry, including its emerging role as a preparative method based on accelerated bimolecular reaction rates in solution and on ion soft landing as a means of surface tailoring. In summary, the paper covers the proud history, vibrant present and expansive future of mass spectrometry.
Gas-phase ion chemistry is an area in mass spectrometry that has received much research interest since the mid fifties of the last century. Although the focus of mass spectrometric research has shifted the last twenty years largely to life science studies, including proteomics, genomics and metabolomics, there are still several groups in the world active in gas-phase ion chemistry of both positive and negative ions, either unimolecularly and/or bimolecularly. In this tutorial lecture the formation and determination of tautomeric ion structures and intra-ionic catalyzed tautomerization in the gas phase will be discussed. In addition, an example of formation of different tautomeric structures in protic and aprotic solvents under electrospray ionization conditions will be given, as established by gas-phase infrared multiphoton dissociation spectroscopy. This will be followed by presenting an example of time-resolved MS/MS which enables to identify the structure of an ion, generated at a particular molecular ion lifetime. At the end of the lecture the power of ion mobility will be shown in elucidating the mechanism of epimerization of bis-Tröger bases having chiral nitrogen centers.
This brief overview addresses the topic that was presented in the Thomson Medal Award session at the 19th International Mass Spectrometry Conference in Kyoto, Japan. Mass spectrometry of cation-radicals has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance thanks to the development of new methods for electron attachment to multiply charged peptide ions. The charge-reduced ions that are odd-electron species exhibit interesting reactivity that is useful for peptide and protein sequencing. The paper briefly reviews the fundamental aspects of the formation, energetics, and backbone dissociations of peptide cation-radicals.
Peptide radicals play a significant role in biology as well as mass spectrometry. They can be differentiated into two groups: conventional hydrogen-deficient radicals, e.g. M+• as in electron ionization, and much more rare hydrogen-abundant radicals, e.g. [M+2H]+•, as in electron capture/transfer dissociation. The dissociation chemistries of these two types of radicals are vastly different. Both types tend to lose small molecules or radical groups, but the overlap between the losses from different radical types is minimal. The backbone cleavage for hydrogen-deficient radicals is dominated by Cα–C cleavage (a•, x fragments) and for hydrogen-abundant radicals—by N–Cα cleavage (c, z• ions). The latter types of fragmentation produces more sequencing information than the former. Therefore, hydrogen-abundant peptide radicals are more valuable in mass spectrometry. The efficiency of the main method of their production, electron capture/transfer dissociation, is however limited by charge reduction. Alternative methods of generation of hydrogen-abundant radicals are needed to improve the sequencing capabilities of mass spectrometry.
The thermochemistry of non-covalent ion–molecule complexes has been examined by measuring quantitative bond dissociation energies using threshold collision-induced dissociation in guided ion beam tandem mass spectrometers (GIBMS). The methods used are briefly reviewed and several examples of the types of information and insight that can be obtained from such thermodynamic information are discussed. The hydration of metal cations, both singly and doubly charged, is reviewed and the trends elucidated, mainly on the basis of electrostatic contributions. The binding of alkali metal cations to amino acids has been examined for a range of systems, with both the overall polarizability of the amino acid and the local dipole moment of heteroatomic side-chains shown to be important contributors. The gas-phase interactions of the 12-crown-4 (12C4) polyether with alkali metal cations, classic molecular recognition systems in solution, have been newly compared to previous GIBMS work. These results validate the previous hypothesis that excited conformers were present for Rb+(12C4) and Cs+(12C4) and offer clues as to how and why they are formed.
MALDI ionization mechanisms remain a topic of controversy. Some of the major modern models are compared, with emphasis on those of the author. Primary formation, secondary reaction, and loss mechanisms are considered.
The introduction of DART and DESI sources approximately seven years ago led to the development of a new series of atmospheric pressure ion sources referred to as “ambient ionization” sources. These fall into two major categories: spray techniques like DESI or plasma techniques like DART. The selectivity of “direct ionization,” meaning analysis without chromatography and with little or no sample preparation, depends on the mass spectrometer selectivity. Although high resolution and tandem mass spectrometry are valuable tools, rapid and simple sample preparation methods can improve the utility of ambient ionization methods. The concept of ambient ionization has led to the realization that there are many more ways to form ions than might be expected. An interesting example is the use of a flint-and-steel spark source to generate ions from compounds such as phenolphthalein and Gramicidin S.
The present paper demonstrates the detection of explosives in solution using thermal desorption technique at a temperature higher than Leidenfrost temperature of the solvent in combination with low temperature plasma (LTP) ionization. Leidenfrost temperature of a solvent is the temperature above which the solvent droplet starts levitation instead of splashing when placed on a hot metallic surface. During this desorption process, slow and gentle solvent evaporation takes place, which leads to the pre-concentration of less-volatile explosive molecules in the droplet and the explosive molecules are released at the last moment of droplet evaporation. The limits of detection for explosives studied by using this thermal desorption LTP ionization method varied in a range of 1 to 10 parts per billion (ppb) using a droplet volume of 20 μL (absolute sample amount 90–630 fmol). As LTP ionization method was applied and ion–molecule reactions took place in ambient atmosphere, various ion–molecule adduct species like [M+NO2]−, [M+NO3]−, [M+HCO3]−, [M+HCO4]− were generated together with [M−H]− peak. Each peak was unambiguously identified using ‘Exactive Orbitrap’ mass spectrometer in negative ionization mode within 3 ppm deviation compared to its exact mass. This newly developed technique was successfully applied to detect four explosives contained in the pond water and soil sample with minor sample pre-treatment and the explosives were detected with ppb levels. The present method is simple, rapid and can detect trace levels of explosives with high specificity from solutions.
Accurate mass measurement requires the highest possible mass resolution, to ensure that only a single elemental composition contributes to the mass spectral peak in question. Although mass resolution is conventionally defined as the closest distinguishable separation between two peaks of equal height and width, the required mass resolving power can be ∼10× higher for equal width peaks whose peak height ratio is 100 : 1. Ergo, minimum resolving power requires specification of maximum dynamic range, and is thus 10–100× higher than the conventional definition. Mass resolving power also depends on mass-to-charge ratio. Mass accuracy depends on mass spectral signal-to-noise ratio and digital resolution. Finally, the reliability of elemental composition assignment can be improved by resolution of isotopic fine structure. Thus, the answer to the question of “how much is enough mass resolving power” requires that one first specify S/N ratio, dynamic range, digital resolution, mass-to-charge ratio, and (if available) isotopic fine structure. The highest available broadband mass resolving power and mass accuracy is from Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry. Over the past five years, FT-ICR MS mass accuracy has improved by about an order of magnitude, based on higher magnetic field strength, conditional averaging of time-domain transients, better mass calibration (spectral segmentation; inclusion of a space charge term); radially dispersed excitation; phase correction to yield absorption-mode display; and new ICR cell segmentation designs.
Understanding of behavior of ion ensembles inside FT-ICR cell based on the computer simulation of ion motion gives rise to the new ideas of cell designs. The recently introduced novel FT-ICR cell based on a Penning ion trap with specially shaped excitation and detection electrodes prevents distortion of ion cyclotron motion phases (normally caused by non-ideal electric trapping fields) by averaging the trapping DC electric field during the ion motion in the ICR cell. Detection times of 5 min resulting in resolving power close to 40,000,000 have been reached for reserpine at m/z 609 at a magnetic field of only 7 Tesla. Fine structures of resolved 13Cn isotopic cluster groups could be measured for molecular masses up to 5.7 kDa (insulin) with resolving power of 4,000,000 at 7 Tesla. Based on resolved fine structure patterns atomic compositions can be directly determined using a new developed algorithm for fine structure processing. Mass spectra of proteins and multimers of proteins reaching masses up to 186 kDa (enolase tetramer) could be measured with isotopic resolution. For instance, at 7 Tesla resolving power of 800,000 was achieved for enolase dimer (96 kDa) and 500,000 for molecular masses above 100 kDa. Experimental data indicate that there is practically no limit for the resolving power of this ICR cell except by collisional damping in the ultrahigh vacuum chamber.
Differential ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) separates ions in gases based on the difference between their mobilities in strong and weak electric fields, captured directly employing a periodic waveform with dissimilar profiles in opposite polarities. As that difference is not tightly correlated with the ion size or mass, FAIMS separations are generally quite orthogonal to both conventional IMS (based on the absolute ion mobility that reflects the physical ion size) and mass spectrometry (based on mass). Until a few years ago, that advantage was largely offset by poor FAIMS resolving power (∼10–20), an order of magnitude below that achieved with conventional (drift-tube) IMS. This article summarizes the major recent technical developments that have raised FAIMS resolving power up to ∼500. These include use of higher and more stable voltages provided by new waveform generators, novel buffer gas compositions comprising high helium or hydrogen fractions, and extended filtering times up to ∼1 s. These advances have enabled previously unthinkable analyses such as broad baseline separations of peptide sequence inversions, localization variants (post-translationally modified peptides with differing PTM attachment sites) even for the larger “middle-down” peptides and smallest PTMs, and lipid regioisomers.
Electrospray ionization (ESI)-mass spectrometry (MS) is generally used for the characterization of labile supramolecules in which non-covalent bonding interactions are predominant. However, molecular ions are not detected in many cases because of their instability, and even if such ions are detected, thermal decomposition generates fragment ions that also appear in the mass spectrum. Cold-spray ionization (CSI) is designed for the MS detection of labile organic species. It is used to analyze the structures of biomolecular complexes and labile organic species in solution. The method, a variant of ESI-MS, operates at low temperature, allowing simple and precise characterization of labile non-covalent complexes that are difficult or impossible to observe by conventional MS techniques. The CSI method is particularly suitable for elucidating the structures of labile organometallic compounds in solution as it offers a means to investigate the dynamic behavior of unstable molecules and/or labile clusters in solution. Various labile organic compounds are analyzed by using the CSI method in the field of organic chemistry. CSI-MS is also used to investigate the behavior of aggregated steroid compounds, namely, bisguanidinobenzene–benzoic acid complexes, in solution. This method is a powerful tool for analyzing the equilibria of multiply linked self-assembling catenanes in solution. Its application to unstable and complex supramolecules will be shown. We have developed an effective ionization method that uses metal-complex-based ionization probes containing 2,6-bis(oxazolinyl) pyridine (pybox) ligands. Using this method, we were able to detect multiply charged ions of target molecules. This method was proven to effectively ionize large complex molecules, including biomolecules and various supramolecules, as well as carbon clusters, such as fullerenes. Moreover, isotope-labeled pybox-La complexes were used to clearly detect isotopic labeling shifts. Their applications to multiply charged ionization, including isotope labeling of biomolecules and carbon clusters using CSI-MS, will be shown.
Native protein mass spectrometry (MS), the measurement of proteins and protein complexes from non-denaturing solutions, with electrospray ionization (ESI) has utility in the biological sciences. Protein complexes exceeding 1 MDa have been measured by MS and ion mobility spectrometry (IMS), and the data yields information not only regarding size, but structural details can be revealed also. ESI-IMS allows the relative stability of protein–ligand binding to be measured. Top-down MS, the direct dissociation of the intact gas phase biomolecule, can generate sequence and identity information for monomeric (denatured) proteins, and topology information for noncovalent protein complexes. For protein complexes with small molecule ligands, i.e., drugs, cofactors, metals, etc., top-down MS with electron capture dissociation can be used to elucidate the site(s) of ligand binding. Increasing protein ESI charging, e.g., supercharging, enhances the efficiency for dissociation of protein complexes.
Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) instruments can rapidly produce large complex data sets. Within each spectrum, there can be hundreds of peaks. A typical 256×256 pixel image contains 65,536 spectra. If this is extended to a 3D image, the number of spectra in a given data set can reach the millions. The challenge becomes how to process these large data sets while taking into account the changes and differences between all the peaks in the spectra. This is particularly challenging for biological materials that all contain the same types of proteins and lipids, just in varying concentrations and spatial distributions. This data analysis challenge is further complicated by the limitations in the ion yield of higher mass, more chemically specific species, and potentially by the processing power of typical computers. Herein we briefly discuss analysis methodologies including univariate analysis, multivariate analysis (MVA) methods, and some of the limitations of ToF-SIMS analysis of biological materials.
A reaction strategy involving functional group selective modification of the O-alkenyl-ether double bond within plasmenyl ether containing lipids using iodine and methanol, in conjunction with functional group selective derivatization of amine-containing lipids using a novel 13C1-S,S′-dimethylthiobutanoylhydroxysuccinimide ester (13C1-DMBNHS) reagent, is shown to improve the capabilities of ‘shotgun’ high resolution/accurate mass spectrometry for comprehensive lipidome analysis. Importantly, the characteristic mass shifts introduced as a result of these derivatization reactions enables the resolution and unambiguous identification of isobaric mass plasmenyl- and plasmanyl-ether containing lipid species from within crude complex lipid extracts, without need for chromatographic fractionation or additional lipid extraction steps prior to analysis. Additionally, the positive ionization mode tandem mass spectrometry fragmentation behavior of the derivatized plasmenyl ether containing glycerophosphocholine and glycerophosphoethanolamine lipids are shown to yield abundant characteristic product ions that directly enable the assignment of their molecular lipid identities.
The role of glycosylation and their biological functions whether as free oligosaccharides or glycoconjugates has been made possible by the recent advancements in the analyses of these compounds. The heterogeneity and the large structural diversity have made oligosaccharide analysis significantly more difficult than other biopolymers. The next stage of development is to achieve high throughput analysis. However, the structural elucidation of oligosaccharides remains an extremely difficult task. Recent reports reveal that the diversity of structures in a given biological system is finite and may not be large. It may be possible to create a database of structures that can be used to determine the identity of known compounds. This capability would therefore make high throughput glycomics possible. Achieving this task depends on the proper selection of chemical characteristics to identify the compound. In this presentation, nanoflow liquid chromatography retention times, accurate mass, and tandem MS is used to determine structure with a high degree of certainty. The method is used to determine the biological function of milk oligosaccharides as well as to discover glycan-based biomarkers for diseases.
Uremic toxins are involved in a variety of symptoms in advanced chronic kidney disease. Especially, the accumulation of protein-bound uremic toxins in the blood of dialysis patients might play an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease. Serum concentration of protein-bound uremic toxins such as indoxyl sulfate, indoxyl glucuronide, indoleacetic acid, p-cresyl sulfate, p-cresyl glucuronide, phenyl sulfate, phenyl glucuronide, phenylacetic acid, phenylacetylglutamine, hippuric acid, 4-ethylphenyl sulfate, and 3-carboxy-4-methyl-5-propyl-2-furanpropionic acid (CMPF) in hemodialysis patients were simultaneously measured by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. Serum levels of these protein-bound uremic toxins were increased in hemodialysis patients. Indoxyl sulfate, p-cresyl sulfate, and CMPF could not be removed efficiently by hemodialysis due to their high protein-binding ratios. Serum level of total indoxyl sulfate did not show any significant correlation with total p-cresyl sulfate. However, free indoxyl sulfate correlated with free p-cresyl sulfate, and reduction rate by hemodialysis of indoxyl sulfate correlated with that of p-cresyl sulfate. Serum levels of total and free indoxyl sulfate showed significantly positive correlation with those of indoxyl glucuronide, phenyl sulfate, and phenyl glucuronide. Serum levels of total and free p-cresyl sulfate showed significantly positive correlation with those of p-cresyl glucuronide, phenylacetylglutamine, and phenylacetic acid. Indoxyl sulfate and indoxyl glucuronide are produced from indole which is produced in the intestine from tryptophan by intestinal bacteria. p-Cresyl sulfate and p-cresyl glucuronide are produced from p-cresol which is produced in the intestine from tyrosine by intestinal bacteria. Thus, intestinal bacteria play an important role in the metabolism of protein-bound uremic toxins.
Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography/time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC TOFMS) and gas chromatography/high-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC-HRT) were used to detect and identify halogenated natural products (HNPs) in tissue homogenate, in this case brominated analytes present in a marine snail. Two classes of brominated anthropogenic compounds, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and brominated dibenzofurans, were analyzed for comparison. Following conventional preparation, the sample was analyzed using GC×GC-TOF-MS. Isotope ratio scripts were used to compile a list of putatively brominated analytes from amongst the thousands of features resolved in the two-dimensional chromatogram. The structured nature of the chromatogram was exploited to propose identifications for several classes of brominated compounds, and include additional candidates that fell marginally outside the script tolerances. The sample was subsequently analyzed by GC-HRT. The high-resolution mass spectral data confirmed many formula assignments, facilitated confident assignment of an alternate formula when an original proposal did not hold, and enabled unknown identification. Identified HNPs include hydroxylated and methoxylated PBDE analogs, polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PBDDs) and hydroxyl-PBDDs, permitting the environmental occurrence and fate of such compounds to be studied.
Elimination of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) under national and international regulations reduces “primary” emissions, but “secondary” emissions continue from residues deposited in soil, water, ice and vegetation during former years of usage. In a future, secondary source controlled world, POPs will follow the carbon cycle and biogeochemical processes will determine their transport, accumulation and fate. Climate change is likely to affect mobilisation of POPs through e.g., increased temperature, altered precipitation and wind patterns, flooding, loss of ice cover in polar regions, melting glaciers, and changes in soil and water microbiology which affect degradation and transformation. Chiral compounds offer advantages for following transport and fate pathways because of their ability to distinguish racemic (newly released or protected from microbial attack) and nonracemic (microbially degraded) sources. This paper discusses the rationale for this approach and suggests applications where chiral POPs could aid investigation of climate-mediated exchange and degradation processes. Multiyear measurements of two chiral POPs, trans-chlordane and α-HCH, at a Canadian Arctic air monitoring station show enantiomer compositions which cycle seasonally, suggesting varying source contributions which may be under climatic control. Large-scale shifts in the enantioselective metabolism of chiral POPs in soil and water might influence the enantiomer composition of atmospheric residues, and it would be advantageous to include enantiospecific analysis in POPs monitoring programs.
The article gives a condensed version of the keynote lecture held at the International Mass Spectrometry Conference 2012 in Kyoto. Starting with some examples for isotope research the key requirements for metrologically valid procedures enabling traceable and comparable isotope data are discussed. Of course multi-collector mass spectrometers are required which offer sufficiently high isotope ratio precision for the intended research work. Following this, corrections for mass fractionation/discrimination, validation of the analytical procedure including chemical sample preparation and complete uncertainty budgets are the most important issues for obtaining a metrologically valid procedure for isotope ratio determination. Only the application of such metrologically valid procedures enables the generation of traceable and comparable isotope data. To realize this suitable isotope and/or δ-reference materials are required, which currently are not sufficiently available for most isotope systems. Boron is given as an example, for which the situation regarding isotope and δ-reference materials is excellent. Boron may therefore serve as prototype for other isotope systems.
Uranium chemistry is of sustainable interest. Breakthroughs in uranium studies make serious impacts in many fields including chemistry, physics, energy and biology, because uranium plays fundamentally important roles in these fields. Substantial progress in uranium studies normally requires development of novel analytical tools. Extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (EESI-MS) is a sensitive technique for trace detection of various analytes in complex matrices without sample pretreatment. EESI-MS shows excellent performance for monitoring uranium species in various samples at trace levels since it tolerates extremely complex matrices. Therefore, EESI-MS is an alternative choice for studying uranium chemistry, especially when it combines ion trap mass spectrometry. In this presentation, three examples of EESI-MS for uranium chemistry studies will be given, illustrating the potential applications of EESI-MS in synthesis chemistry, physical chemistry, and analytical chemistry of uranium. More specifically, case studies on EESI-MS for synthesis and characterization of novel uranium species, and for rapid detection of uranium and its isotope ratios in various samples will be presented. Novel methods based on EESI-MS for screening uranium ores and radioactive iodine-129 will be presented.
As the only imaging method available, Imaging Mass Spectrometry (IMS) can determine both the identity and the distribution of hundreds of molecules on tissue sections, all in one single run. IMS is becoming an established research technology, and due to recent technical and methodological improvements the interest in this technology is increasing steadily and within a wide range of scientific fields. Of the different IMS methods available, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) IMS is the most commonly employed. The course at IMSC 2012 in Kyoto covered the fundamental principles and techniques of MALDI-IMS, assuming no previous experience in IMS. This mini review summarizes the content of the one-day course and describes some of the most recent work performed within this research field.