, Volume 405, Issue 4, pp 1159-1170
Date: 09 Nov 2012

MALDI imaging in human skin tissue sections: focus on various matrices and enzymes

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Abstract

Matrix-assisted laser/desorption ionization (MALDI) mass-spectrometric imaging (MSI), also known as MALDI imaging, is a powerful technique for mapping biological molecules such as endogenous proteins and peptides in human skin tissue sections. A few groups have endeavored to apply MALDI-MSI to the field of skin research; however, a comprehensive article dealing with skin tissue sections and the application of various matrices and enzymes is not available. Our aim is to present a multiplex method, based on MALDI-MSI, to obtain the maximum information from skin tissue sections. Various matrices were applied to skin tissue sections: (1) 9-aminoacridine for imaging metabolites in negative ion mode; (2) sinapinic acid to obtain protein distributions; (3) α-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid subsequent to on-tissue enzymatic digestion by trypsin, elastase, and pepsin, respectively, to localize the resulting peptides. Notably, substantial amounts of data were generated from the distributions retrieved for all matrices applied. Several primary metabolites, e.g. ATP, were localized and subsequently identified by on-tissue postsource decay measurements. Furthermore, maps of proteins and peptides derived from on-tissue digests were generated. Identification of peptides was achieved by elution with different solvents, mixing with α-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid, and subsequent tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) measurements, thereby avoiding on-tissue MS/MS measurements. Highly abundant peptides were identified, allowing their use as internal calibrants in future MALDI-MSI analyses of human skin tissue sections. Elastin as an endogenous skin protein was identified only by use of elastase, showing the high potential of alternative enzymes. The results show the versatility of MALDI-MSI in the field of skin research. This article containing a methodological perspective depicts the basics for a comprehensive comparison of various skin states.

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Matrix-assisted laser/desorption ionization (MALDI) mass-spectrometric imaging (MSI), also known as MALDI imaging, is a powerful technique for mapping biological molecules in human skin tissue sections. In this body of work, a multiplex method, based on MALDI-MSI, is presented to obtain maximum information from skin tissue sections. Therefore, various matrices were applied to skin tissue sections: (1) 9-aminoacridine (9-AA) for imaging small molecules in negative ion mode; (2) sinapinic acid (SA) to obtain protein distributions; (3) α-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid (α-HCHA) subsequent to on-tissue enzymatic digestion by trypsin, elastase, and pepsin, respectively, to localize the resulting peptides. Of note, identification of metabolites was achieved by post-source decay (PSD) MALDI, and proteins were identified subsequent to enzymatic digestion via the resulting peptides which were eluted from the skin tissue section and afterwards analyzed with use of a tandem time-of-flight (ToF) mass spectrometer. The application of alternative enzymes, such as pepsin and elastase, is highlighted within this article