Micro-electrospray mass spectrometry: Ultra-high-sensitivity analysis of peptides and proteins

Mark R. Emmett, Richard M. Caprioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

482 Scopus citations


A "micro-electrospray" ionization source has been developed that markedly increases the sensitivity of the conventional electrospray source. This was achieved by optimization of the source to accommodate nanoliter flow rates from 300 to 800-nL/min spraying directly from a capillary needle that, for the analysis of peptides, contained C18 liquid chromatography packing as an integrated concentration-desalting device. Thus, a total of 1 fmol of methionine enkephalin was desorbed from the capillary column spray needle, loaded as a 10-μL injection of 100-amol/μL solution. The mass spectrum showed the [M + H]+ ion at m/z 574.2 with a signal-to-noise ratio of better than 5:1 from a chromatographic peak with a width of about 12 s. A narrow range (15-u) tandem mass spectrum was obtained for methionine enkephalin from the injection of 500 amol, and a full-scan tandem-mass spectrum was obtained from 50 fmol. For proteins, the average mass measurement accuracy was approximately 100-200 ppm for the injection of 2.5 fmol of apomyoglobin and 20-40 ppm for 200 fmol. Carbonic anhydrase B and bovine serum albumin showed similar mass measurement accuracies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-613
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Spectroscopy


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