Top-down and bottom-up identification of proteins by liquid extraction surface analysis mass spectrometry of healthy and diseased human liver tissue

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Liquid extraction surface analysis mass spectrometry (LESA MS) has the potential to become a useful tool in the spatially-resolved profiling of proteins in substrates. Here, the approach has been applied to the analysis of thin tissue sections from human liver. The aim was to determine whether LESA MS was a suitable approach for the detection of protein biomarkers of nonalcoholic liver disease (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, NASH), with a view to the eventual development of LESA MS for imaging NASH pathology. Two approaches were considered. In the first, endogenous proteins were extracted from liver tissue sections by LESA, subjected to automated trypsin digestion, and the resulting peptide mixture was analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) (bottom-up approach). In the second (top-down approach), endogenous proteins were extracted by LESA, and analyzed intact. Selected protein ions were subjected to collision-induced dissociation (CID) and/or electron transfer dissociation (ETD) mass spectrometry. The bottom-up approach resulted in the identification of over 500 proteins; however identification of key protein biomarkers, liver fatty acid binding protein (FABP1), and its variant (Thr→Ala, position 94), was unreliable and irreproducible. Top-down LESA MS analysis of healthy and diseased liver tissue revealed peaks corresponding to multiple (~15–25) proteins. MS/MS of four of these proteins identified them as FABP1, its variant, α-hemoglobin, and 10 kDa heat shock protein. The reliable identification of FABP1 and its variant by top-down LESA MS suggests that the approach may be suitable for imaging NASH pathology in sections from liver biopsies.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1953-1961
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number11
Early online date3 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • LESA, Liquid microjunction, Ambient, Bottom-up, Top-down, Proteomics