American Chemical Society
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Enhanced Spatially Resolved Proteomics Using On-Tissue Hydrogel-Mediated Protein Digestion

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-02-10, 00:00 authored by David G. Rizzo, Boone M. Prentice, Jessica L. Moore, Jeremy L. Norris, Richard M. Caprioli
The identification of proteins from tissue specimens is a challenging area of biological research. Many current techniques for identification forfeit some level of spatial information during the sample preparation process. Recently, hydrogel technologies have been developed that perform spatially localized protein extraction and digestion prior to downstream proteomic analysis. Regiospecific protein identifications acquired using this approach have thus far been limited to 1–2 mm diameter areas. The need to target smaller populations of cells with this technology necessitates the production of smaller diameter hydrogels. Herein, we demonstrate hydrogel fabrication processes that allow hydrogel applications down to a diameter of ∼260 μm, approximately 1/15 of the area of previous approaches. Parameters such as the percent polyacrylamide used in hydrogel construction as well as the concentration of trypsin with which the hydrogel is loaded are investigated to maximize the number of protein identifications from subsequent liquid chromatography tandem MS (LC–MS/MS) analysis of hydrogel extracts. An 18% polyacrylamide concentration is shown to provide for a more rigid polymer network than the conventional 7.5% polyacrylamide concentration and supports the fabrication of individual hydrogels using the small punch biopsies. Over 600 protein identifications are still achieved at the smallest hydrogel diameters of 260 μm. The utility of these small hydrogels is demonstrated through the analysis of sub regions of a rat cerebellum tissue section. While over 900 protein identifications are made from each hydrogel, approximately 20% of the proteins identified are unique to each of the two regions, highlighting the importance of targeting tissue subtypes to accurately characterize tissue biology. These newly improved methods to the hydrogel process will allow researchers to target smaller biological features for robust spatially localized proteomic analyses.