Vacuum Insulated Probe Heated Electrospray Ionization Source Enhances Microflow Rate Chromatography Signals in the Bruker timsTOF Mass Spectrometer

J Proteome Res. 2023 Jul 7;22(7):2525-2537. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.3c00305. Epub 2023 Jun 9.


By far the largest contribution to ion detectability in liquid chromatography-driven mass spectrometry-based proteomics is the efficient generation of peptide molecular ions by the electrospray source. To maximize the transfer of peptides from the liquid to gaseous phase and allow molecular ions to enter the mass spectrometer at microspray flow rates, an efficient electrospray process is required. Here we describe the superior performance of newly design vacuum insulated probe heated electrospray ionization (VIP-HESI) source coupled to a Bruker timsTOF PRO mass spectrometer operated in microspray mode. VIP-HESI significantly improves chromatography signals in comparison to electrospray ionization (ESI) and nanospray ionization using the captivespray (CS) source and provides increased protein detection with higher quantitative precision, enhancing reproducibility of sample injection amounts. Protein quantitation of human K562 lymphoblast samples displayed excellent chromatographic retention time reproducibility (<10% coefficient of variation (CV)) with no signal degradation over extended periods of time, and a mouse plasma proteome analysis identified 12% more plasma protein groups allowing large-scale analysis to proceed with confidence (1,267 proteins at 0.4% CV). We show that the Slice-PASEF VIP-HESI mode is sensitive in identifying low amounts of peptide without losing quantitative precision. We demonstrate that VIP-HESI coupled with microflow rate chromatography achieves a higher depth of coverage and run-to-run reproducibility for a broad range of proteomic applications. Data and spectral libraries are available via ProteomeXchange (PXD040497).

Keywords: captivespray (CS); data-independent acquisition-parallel accumulation and serial fragmentation (dia-PASEF); electrospray ionization (ESI); microflow liquid chromatography (μLC); slice-parallel accumulation and serial fragmentation (Slice-PASEF); vacuum insulated probe heated electrospray ionization (VIP-HESI) source.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Humans
  • Ions
  • Mice
  • Peptides / analysis
  • Proteome / analysis
  • Proteomics* / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization* / methods
  • Vacuum


  • Peptides
  • Ions
  • Proteome