In many areas of applications key objectives of chemical separations and analysis are to minimize the sample quantity while maximizing the chemical information obtained. Increasing measurement sensitivity is especially critical for proteomics research, especially when processing trace samples and where multiple measurements are desired. A rich collection of technologies has been developed, but the resulting sensitivity remains insufficient for achieving in-depth coverage of proteomic samples as small as single cells. Here we combine picoliter-scale liquid chromatography (picoLC) with mass spectrometry (MS) to address this issue. The picoLC employs 2-µm-i.d. open tubular columnto reduce the sample input needed to greatly increase the sensitivity achieved using electrospray ionization (ESI) with MS. With this picoLC-MS system, we show that we can identify ~1000 proteins reliably using only 30 pg of tryptic peptides, representing a 10–100-fold sensitivity improvement compared with the state-of-the-art liquid chromatography (LC) or capillary electrophoresis (CE)-MS methods. PicoLC-MS extends the limit of separation science and is expected to be a powerful tool for single cell proteomics.
Revised: September 2, 2020 |
Published: April 7, 2020