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.
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