Extending the information content of the MALDI analysis of biological fluids via multi-million shot analysis

Autoři: Maxim Tsypin aff001;  Senait Asmellash aff001;  Krista Meyer aff001;  Brandon Touchet aff001;  Heinrich Roder aff001
Působiště autorů: Biodesix Inc., Boulder, Colorado, United States of America aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226012



Reliable measurements of the protein content of biological fluids like serum or plasma can provide valuable input for the development of personalized medicine tests. Standard MALDI analysis typically only shows high abundance proteins, which limits its utility for test development. It also exhibits reproducibility issues with respect to quantitative measurements. In this paper we show how the sensitivity of MALDI profiling of intact proteins in unfractionated human serum can be substantially increased by exposing a sample to many more laser shots than are commonly used. Analytical reproducibility is also improved.


To assess what is theoretically achievable we utilized spectra from the same samples obtained over many years and combined them to generate MALDI spectral averages of up to 100,000,000 shots for a single sample, and up to 8,000,000 shots for a set of 40 different serum samples. Spectral attributes, such as number of peaks and spectral noise of such averaged spectra were investigated together with analytical reproducibility as a function of the number of shots. We confirmed that results were similar on MALDI instruments from different manufacturers.


We observed an expected decrease of noise, roughly proportional to the square root of the number of shots, over the whole investigated range of the number of shots (5 orders of magnitude), resulting in an increase in the number of reliably detected peaks. The reproducibility of the amplitude of these peaks, measured by CV and concordance analysis also improves with very similar dependence on shot number, reaching median CVs below 2% for shot numbers > 4 million. Measures of analytical information content and association with biological processes increase with increasing number of shots.


We demonstrate that substantially increasing the number of laser shots in a MALDI-TOF analysis leads to more informative and reliable data on the protein content of unfractionated serum. This approach has already been used in the development of clinical tests in oncology.

Klíčová slova:

Immune response – Lasers – Mass spectra – Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry – Noise reduction – Oncology – Proteomes – Serum proteins


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