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Mass determination of major plasma proteins by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry

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Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/MS) serves as a rapid and accurate means to determine masses of proteins independent of their shapes or interactions with other molecules. It provides one of the most fundamental characterizations of major plasma proteins. Purified proteins in saline or serum specimens were prepared for analysis by dilution, mixing with a solution of sinapinic acid, and drying on a target plate. Specimens were analyzed in a linear TOF mode with external calibration. Analyses of 24 purified plasma proteins showed predominance of singly charged ions with lesser amounts of dimer and doubly charged monomer, and provided measured masses for these proteins. A number of proteins, including albumin, transferrin, apolipoproteins A-I, A-II, C-I, C-II, and C-III, and prealbumin, could be analyzed directly in serum with appropriate dilution. Measured values for masses of major plasma proteins will assist in analysis of serum and plasma. It is possible to analyze a number of components by MALDI-TOF/MS directly in diluted serum. Extremely simple sample preparation techniques may be useful in analyzing structural variation of several major plasma proteins, particularly those with masses <30 kDa, including a number of apolipoproteins and markers of nutritional status or acute phase responses.


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Correspondence to Glen L. Hortin.

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Hortin, G.L., Remaley, A.T. Mass determination of major plasma proteins by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Clin Proteom 2, 103–115 (2006).

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  • Sialic Acid
  • Ammonium Acetate
  • Acute Phase Response
  • Serum Amyloid
  • Transthyretin