Digital microfluidics with in-line sample purification for proteomics analyses with MALDI-MS

Anal Chem. 2005 Jan 15;77(2):534-40. doi: 10.1021/ac048754+.


An in-line sample purification method for MALDI-MS, which relies on the electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD)-based technique for digital microfluidics, is reported. In this method, a droplet containing peptides and impurities is moved by EWOD and deposited onto a Teflon-AF surface. A droplet of water is subsequently moved over the spot, where it dissolves and removes the impurities. A droplet containing MALDI matrix is then moved to the spot, which is analyzed by MALDI-MS. This purification method reduces the number of salt adduct peaks caused by low concentrations of impurities (e.g., 20 mM sodium phosphate), and reduces or eliminates the catastrophic effects of high concentrations of impurities (e.g., 8 M urea). The method was used to purify spots made by depositing multiple droplets of contaminated peptides. Spectra from the purified spots showed an increase in the S/N ratio as a function of the number of droplets deposited; when not purified, the S/N ratio remained constant regardless of the number of droplets. Finally, the method was used to purify protein digests for peptide mass fragment (PMF) searches, and was shown to be more efficient than the conventional method of purification with reversed-phase-packed pipet tips. We anticipate this new, in-line sample purification technique for EWOD-MALDI-MS will enable development of integrated high-throughput proteomics analysis methodologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analytic Sample Preparation Methods
  • Angiotensin II / analysis
  • Metalloendopeptidases / metabolism
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods*
  • Myoglobin / metabolism
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism


  • Myoglobin
  • Ubiquitin
  • Angiotensin II
  • Metalloendopeptidases
  • peptidyl-Lys metalloendopeptidase