Identification of hemoglobin variants by top-down mass spectrometry using selected diagnostic product ions
Hemoglobin disorder diagnosis is a complex procedure combining several analytical steps. Due to the lack of specificity of the currently used protein analysis methods, the identification of uncommon hemoglobin variants (proteoforms) can become a hard task to accomplish. The aim of this work was to develop a mass spectrometry-based approach to quickly identify mutated protein sequences within globin chain variants. To reach this goal, a top-down electron transfer dissociation mass spectrometry method was developed for hemoglobin beta chain analysis. A diagnostic product ion list was established with a color code strategy allowing to quickly and specifically localize a mutation in the hemoglobin beta chain sequence. The method was applied to the analysis of rare hemoglobin beta chain variants and an (A)gamma-beta fusion protein. The results showed that the developed data analysis process allows fast and reliable interpretation of top-down electron transfer dissociation mass spectra by nonexpert users in the clinical area.