Polymer nanospray interfaces for on-line electrochemically induced modifications application to protein mass spectrometry

The aim of this work has been to design, and fabricate a miniaturized electrospray-type interface for mass spectrometry analysis, which allows the nebulization of solutions by applying a high potential difference between the source and the mass spectrometer. The fabrication of the nanospray emitter is based on UV-laser photoablation of polymer substrates. Thick-film channel flow electrodes can be integrated in the microfluidic system, allowing the application of a high voltage to generate electrospray from the open outlet of the microchannel. The polymer-based interface first presented is characterized by a flat edge interface. However, a V-shaped nozzle has been found to present higher stability and ease of use. This design also allows the generation of spray by applying high voltage through an electrode located in a solution reservoir, thereby inducing an electroosmotic pumping. Taking advantage of the intrinsic electrolytic behavior of electrospray, a specific electrochemically induced tagging of free cysteine residues located in proteins can be performed on-line. A p-hydroquinone buffer is used to perform a continuous infusion of protein solution. When in contact with the high-voltage microelectrode, p-hydroquinone undergoes oxidation, thereby producing protonated p-benzoquinone. The latter reacts with free cysteine residues, following a Michael-type addition. The modification of the protein can be followed thanks to MS analyses. A complete study of the mechanisms involved in the electrochemically induced tagging with hydroquinone has been carried out by cyclic voltammetry and digital simulation. The process of the tagging consists of an ECE mechanism, since the formed adduct is stabilized in the reduced state, and is thus free to be oxidized. The rate constant of the chemical reaction has been extracted, by performing cyclic voltammetry studies and modeling the whole system by digital simulations. Finite element simulations have also permitted to highlight several mechanistic aspects of the electrotagging. The nanospray interface has been modeled as a channel-flow electrode cell. After validation of the model with respect to the experimental results, kinetics and mass transport conditions have been investigated. The flow profile, as well as the kinetic rate constant, has been shown to be of great importance in the electrochemically induced tagging. The use of a sacrificial electrode as metallic ion source to generate electrospray has also been investigated. Transition metal electrodes, i.e. copper, zinc, nickel and iron, as well as silver, were used to get on-line complexation with model peptides. It has been demonstrated that the use of in-reservoir sacrificial electrode was an efficient method to generate metal ions in order to form complexes with peptides, without the addition of metallic salts. These studies have demonstrated that polymer nanospray interfaces can be advantageously used as analytical devices, together with their primary function, i.e. ionization sources for protein analyses by mass spectrometry.

Girault, Hubert
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis2822-5

 Record created 2005-03-16, last modified 2018-03-17

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