Mass spectrometry and proteomics

What is Mass Spectrometry Mass Spectrometry is an important tool in proteomics that works by measuring the mass to charge ratio of ionized particles. Mass Spectrometry is a very useful method because it can accurately distinguish ions that differ by a single atomic mass unit.

Contribution to proteomics Mass spectrometry in conjunction with other protein purification techniques have significantly contributed to the advancement in proteomics. Mass spectrometry was used to identify plasma membrane proteins, study plasma membrane topology, protein protein interactions and the plasma membrane signaling networks. Often times MS is coupled with other specific techniques. For example, in the study of plasma membrane topology H/D MS is used. In this technique the rate of H/D exchange is measured to gain a better understanding of the protein's structure. Because the rate of H/D exchange is affected by the environment and positioning of specific parts of the protein, basic topology of the protein can be modeled using this technique.

Significance of proteomics Studying proteins and their properties allows scientists to explain how a specific cell process takes place. Once the protein's role in the process is thoroughly understood, steps in a specific cell process can be modified by changing the property of the proteins involved. This is significant because it can have huge pharmaceutical applications. For example, scientists can develop a drug that targets the active site of a specific protein that regulates cell division to combat cancer.

References Savas, Jeffrey N. Stein, Benjamin D. Wu, Christine C. Yates John R. "Mass spectrometry accelerates membrane protein analysis" Trends Biochem Sci. 2011 July ; 36(7): 388–396. doi:10.1016/j.tibs.2011.04.005.