In 2007, probe electrospray ionization/mass spectrometry (PESI/MS) was developed. In this technique, the needle is moved down along a vertical axis and the tip of the needle touched to the sample. After capturing the sample at the needle tip, the needle is then moved up and a high voltage is applied to the needle at the highest position to generate electrospray. Due to the discontinuous sampling followed by the generation of spontaneous electrospray, sequential and exhaustive electrospray takes place depending on the surface activity of the analytes. As modified versions of PESI, dipping PESI (dPESI), sheath-flow PESI (sfPESI) and adjustable sfPESI (ad-sfPESI) have been developed. These methods are complementary to each other and they can be applicable to surface and bulk analysis of various biological samples. In this article, the characteristics of these methods and their applications to real samples will be reviewed.
Combined therapy using photodynamic therapy (PDT) and chemotherapy has been proposed for anticancer-drug-resistant cancer cells. To evaluate the efficacy of such a combined therapy, the uptakes of an anticancer drug and a photosensitizer in cancer cells must be assessed. Mass spectrometry using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization can detect multiple drugs simultaneously. Human prostate cancer cells PC-3 or docetaxel-resistant cancer cells PC-3-DR were incubated in a serum-free medium containing a photosensitizer, protoporphyrin IX (PpIX), and an anticancer drug, docetaxel. A zeolite matrix was created by mixing 6-aza-2-thiothymine and NaY5.6 zeolite, and dissolving in water with 50% acetone. Ions were obtained with a time-of-flight mass spectrometer using a Nd:YAG laser at a wavelength of 355 nm. The cell morphology was preserved by washing the cells with ammonium acetate and drying in a vacuum after drug administration. Protonated PpIX (m/z 563.3) and the sodium adduct ion of docetaxel (m/z 829.9) were obtained from PC-3 cells simultaneously using the zeolite matrix. On the other hand, PpIX was detected but ions originating from docetaxel were not detected from PC-3-DR cells. The result indicated the efficacy of PDT for docetaxel-resistant cancer cells.
Post-translational modifications (PTMs) of histone N-terminal tails in nucleosome core particle (NCP), such as acetylation, play crucial roles in regulating gene expression. To unveil the regulation mechanism, atomic-level structural analysis of in-vitro modified NCP is effective with verifying the PTMs of histones. So far, identification of PTMs of NCP originating from living cells has mainly been performed using mass spectrometry (MS) techniques, such as bottom-up approach. The bottom-up approach is the most established method for protein characterization, but it does not always provide sufficient information on the acetylated sites of lysine residues in the histone tails if trypsin digestion is carried out. For histone proteins, which have many basic amino acids, trypsin generates too many short fragments that cannot be perfectly analyzed by tandem MS. In this study, we investigated the in vitro acetylation sites in the histone H3 tail using a top-down sequence analysis, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization in-source decay (MALDI-ISD) experiment, in combination with aminopeptidase digestion. Aminopeptidase can cleave peptide bonds one-by-one from the N-terminus of peptides or proteins, generating N-terminally truncated peptides and/or proteins. As a result, it was identified that this method enables sequence characterization of the entire region of the H3 tail. Also, application of this method to H3 in in-vitro acetylated NCP enabled assigning acetylation sites of H3. Thus, this method was found to be effective for obtaining information on in-vitro acetylation of NCP for structural biology study.