Protein identification strategies in MALDI imaging mass spectrometry: a brief review

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2019 Feb;48:64-72. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2018.10.023. Epub 2018 Nov 23.


Matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) is a powerful technology used to investigate the spatial distributions of thousands of molecules throughout a tissue section from a single experiment. As proteins represent an important group of functional molecules in tissue and cells, the imaging of proteins has been an important point of focus in the development of IMS technologies and methods. Protein identification is crucial for the biological contextualization of molecular imaging data. However, gas-phase fragmentation efficiency of MALDI generated proteins presents significant challenges, making protein identification directly from tissue difficult. This review highlights methods and technologies specifically related to protein identification that have been developed to overcome these challenges in MALDI IMS experiments.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Molecular Imaging / instrumentation
  • Molecular Imaging / methods
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Specimen Handling / instrumentation
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / instrumentation
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*
  • Workflow


  • Proteins