Imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) is an emergent and innovative approach for measuring the composition, abundance and regioselectivity of molecules within an investigated area of fixed dimension. Although providing unprecedented molecular information compared with conventional MS techniques, enhancement of protein signature by IMS is still necessary and challenging. This paper demonstrates the combination of conventional organic washes with an optimized aqueous-based buffer for tissue section preparation before matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) IMS of proteins.
Based on a 500 mM ammonium formate in water–acetonitrile (9:1; v/v, 0.1% trifluororacetic acid, 0.1% Triton) solution, this buffer wash has shown to significantly enhance protein signature by profiling and IMS (~fourfold) when used after organic washes (70% EtOH followed by 90% EtOH), improving the quality and number of ion images obtained from mouse kidney and a 14-day mouse fetus whole-body tissue sections, while maintaining a similar reproducibility with conventional tissue rinsing. Even if some protein losses were observed, the data mining has demonstrated that it was primarily low abundant signals and that the number of new peaks found is greater with the described procedure. The proposed buffer has thus demonstrated to be of high efficiency for tissue section preparation providing novel and complementary information for direct on-tissue MALDI analysis compared with solely conventional organic rinsing. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.