A glass-chip-based sample preparation method for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometric (MALDI-MS) analysis of tryptic digests of proteins and intact cells is described. A MALDI matrix, 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid (2,5-DHB), was hybridized with sol–gels to generate a sol–gel-derived material. Taking advantage of the characteristics of sol–gels, the sol–gel-derived material readily adhered to the surface of a glass chip through covalent bonding. Only one step of sample preparation, deposition of the sample solution on the glass chip, was required before MALDI-MS analysis. Because 2,5-DHB was homogeneously dispersed on the sol–gel network structure, good spot-to-spot reproducibility was obtained in MALDI analysis using this approach and the analyte signals were uniform throughout the chip. The modified glass chips were robust and effective for at least 1 week. This glass-chip-based matrix preparation method provides a straightforward approach to developing techniques for analyzing the on-chip enzymatic digestion of proteins and intact cells of microorganisms. Cytochrome C and Escherichia coli were used as analytes to demonstrate the feasibility of this approach. The products of the on-chip enzymatic digests were identified through protein database searches. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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