The combination of electrochemistry (EC) and mass spectrometry (MS) is a powerful analytical tool to study redox reactions. This work reports the online coupling of a thin-layer electrochemical flow cell with liquid sample desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (DESI-MS) and its applications in investigating various electrochemical reactions of biological molecules such as oxidative formation and reductive cleavage of disulfide bonds and online derivatization of peptides/proteins. As a result of the direct sampling nature of DESI, several useful features of such a coupling have been found, including simple instrumentation, fast response time (e.g., 3.6 s in the case of dopamine oxidation), freedom to choose a favorable ionization mode of DESI or traditional electrolysis solvent systems, and the absence of background signal possibly resulting from ionization when the cell is off (e.g., in the case of dopamine oxidation). More importantly, with the use of this new coupling apparatus, three disulfide bonds of insulin were fully cleaved by electrolytic reduction and both the A and B chains of the protein were successfully detected online by DESI-MS. In addition, online tagging of free cysteine residues of peptides/proteins employing electrogenerated dopamine o-quinone can be performed. These revealed characteristics of the coupling along with examined electrochemical reactions suggest that EC/DESI-MS has good potential in bioanalysis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry