Molecular Morphology of the Chick Heart Visualized by MALDI Imaging Mass Spectrometry



Utilization of MALDI-MS (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry) for tissue imaging is a relatively new proteomic technique that simultaneously maps the spatial distribution of multiple proteins directly within a single frozen tissue section. Here, we report the development of a methodology to apply MALDI tissue imaging to chick heart tissue sections acquired from fixed and paraffin-embedded samples. This protocol produces molecular images that can be related to the high-quality histological tissue sections. Perfused term chick hearts were fixed in acidic ethanol and embedded in paraffin wax. Tissue sections (15 μm) were collected onto conductive slides, deparaffinized with xylene, and transitioned into water with graded ethanol washes and allowed to air dry. In separate experiments, three different MALDI matrices were applied to chick heart tissue sections through repeated cycles from a glass nebulizer. Tissue sections were then analyzed by MALDI mass spectrometry using a raster step-size of 75–100 μm, and molecular images for specific m/z ratios reconstituted. MALDI tissue imaging revealed spatially resolved protein signals within single heart sections that are specific to structures or regions of the heart, for example, vessels, valves, endocardium, myocardium, or septa. Moreover, no prior knowledge of protein expression is required as is the case for immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization methodologies. The ability to simultaneously localize a large number of unique protein signals within a single tissue section, with good preservation of histological features, provides cardiovascular researchers a new tool to give insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying normal and pathological conditions. Anat Rec, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.