We studied the effects of electrospray mass spectrometric instrumental settings on the relative and absolute detection of individual proteins in a five-component mixture. Conditions that were effective for a given protein could be very poor for the others, and vice versa, such that to a good approximation it was possible to find conditions for selective detection of individual proteins in a complex mixture without prior analytical separation. Some of these could be rationalized on the basis of the known biophysical properties of the individual proteins. The ability to vary the conditions of a mass spectrometric detection method on-line provides an important degree of freedom for the selective detection, and hence discrimination, of individual proteins and peptides in complex mixtures and has implications in proteomics, in particular with respect to top-down strategies for proteomic characterizations.
Copyright 2004 American Chemical Society