The identification of molecular ions produced by MALDI or ESI strongly relies on their fragmentation to structurally informative fragments. The widely diffused fragmentation techniques for ESI multiply charged ions are either incompatible (ECD and ETD) or show lower efficiency (CID, HCD), with the predominantly singly charged peptide and protein ions formed by MALDI. In-source decay has been successfully adopted to sequence MALDI-generated ions, but it further increases spectral complexity, and it is not compatible with mass-spectrometry imaging. Excellent UVPD performances, in terms of number of fragment ions and sequence coverage, has been demonstrated for electrospray ionization for multiple proteomics applications. UVPD showed a much lower charge-state dependence, and so protein ions produced by MALDI may exhibit equal propensity to fragment. Here we report UVPD implementation on an Orbitrap Q-Exactive Plus mass spectrometer equipped with an ESI/EP-MALDI. UVPD of MALDI-generated ions was benchmarked against MALDI-ISD, MALDI-HCD, and ESI-UVPD. MALDI-UVPD outperformed MALDI-HCD and ISD, efficiently sequencing small proteins ions. Moreover, the singly charged nature of MALDI-UVPD avoids the bioinformatics challenges associated with highly congested ESI-UVPD mass spectra. Our results demonstrate the ability of UVPD to further improve tandem mass spectrometry capabilities for MALDI-generated protein ions. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD011526.
Keywords: MALDI; MS/MS; Q-Exactive; ultraviolet photodissociation.