In-Spray Supercharging of Peptides and Proteins in Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry
Enhanced charging, or supercharging, of analytes in electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI MS) facilitates high resolution MS by reducing an ion mass-to-charge (m/z) ratio, increasing tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) efficiency. ESI MS supercharging is usually achieved by adding a supercharging reagent to the electrospray solution. Addition of these supercharging reagents to the mobile phase in liquid chromatography (LC)-MS/MS increases the average charge of enzymatically derived peptides and improves peptide and protein identification in large-scale bottom-up proteomics applications but disrupts chromatographic separation. Here, we demonstrate the average charge state of selected peptides and proteins increases by introducing the supercharging reagents directly into the ESI Taylor cone (in-spray supercharging) using a dual-sprayer ESI microchip. The results are comparable to those obtained by the addition of supercharging reagents directly into the analyte solution or LC mobile phase. Therefore, supercharging reaction can be accomplished on a time-scale of ion liberation from a droplet in the ESI ion source.