Nanoparticle-based mass spectrometry for the analysis of biomolecules.Chem Soc Rev. 2011 Mar; 40(3):1269-81.CS
Nanoparticles (NPs) are useful as matrixes for the analyses of several types of biomolecules (including aminothiols, peptides, and proteins) and for mass spectrometric imaging through surface-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (SALDI-MS), mainly because of their large surface area, strong absorption in the ultraviolet-near-infrared region, and ready functionalization. Metallic NPs, metal oxide NPs, and semiconductor quantum dots, unmodified or functionalized with recognition ligands, have a strong affinity toward analytes; therefore, they allow the enrichment of biomolecules, leading to improved sensitivity with minimal matrix interference in their mass spectra. SALDI-MS using NPs overcomes the two major problems commonly encountered in matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry: the presence of "sweet spots" and the high background signals in the low-mass region. In this tutorial review, we discuss the roles played by the nature, size, and concentration of the NPs, the buffer composition, and the laser energy in determining the sensitivity and mass ranges for the analytes. We describe internal standard SALDI-MS methods that allow the concentrations of analytes to be determined with low variation (relative standard deviations: <10%) and we highlight how the simplicity, sensitivity, and reproducibility of SALDI-MS approaches using various NPs allow the analyses of proteins and small analytes and the imaging of cells.