MASS SPECTROMETRY LABORATORY

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The University of Houston Mass Spectrometry Laboratory provides the following analytical service. We are currently serving researchers from 9 Departments and Colleges at UH as well as users from the Texas Medical Center and private sector.

Mass spectrometry analysis of chemical/biological samples

  • Synthetic organic/polymer and organometallic compounds: Trained users can run their samples with GCMS and MALDI-TOF-MS. We are developing a procedure for daily collection of samples with m/z 200–4,000, analyzing them by direct infusion ESI-MS/MS via the NanoMate system, and distributing the results online typically on the same day. In the near future, compounds can be extracted directly from TLC spots (without flash chromatography) for the analysis.
  • Biological samples: identification of proteins/peptides in cell lysates and on surfaces and particles, quantification of targeted small molecules such as metabolites, hormones and peptides, and determination of sites for protein modification by oxidation, click reaction or other chemical modification, and limited post-translational modifications.
  • Quantification service is also provided. Typical methods include direct infusion with isotope labeled standards and LC-MS/MS with standards; standards are provided by the user. Protein abundances are estimated by spectra scoring.

Undergraduate training and education on mass spectrometry

  • We will add mass spectrometry analysis to the undergraduate organic chemistry laboratory course CHEM 3222. Selected compounds synthesized by the students will be analyzed by direct infusion ESI-MS/MS using the NanoMate system.
  • We are collaborating with Dr. Rupa Iyer at the College of Technology to develop a direct infusion ESI-MS/MS method using NanoMate for analyzing pesticides and their degradation products by soil bacteria as part of the Environmental Sampling Research Module in the biotechnology program.

Collaborative research in mass spectrometry

Current collaborative projects include 1) identification and quantification of proteins, antimicrobial peptides and lipids in tear films and deposited on contact lenses; and 2) the proteomics of optic nerve head in early stage of experimental glaucoma.

News

With support from the Department of Chemistry and the Division of Research, we purchased and installed a refurbished Thermo LTQ XL linear ion trap system in November 2015. As a result of the new addition of this instrument to our facility and our recent campaign to promote usage of the service, our revenue to date (from January 1 – April 15, 2016) amounts to $61,747, and is projected to reach over $80,000 at the middle of the year.

The large revenue has allowed us to complete major repair and service to our old LCQ Deca XP system, including replacement of the turbo pump and the major PCB, and to purchase a demo TriVersa NanoMate chip-based nano electrospray (nESI) system. Installation and initial test of this powerful system was completed on April 14. This system can perform rapid direct infusion of samples in a 96 well-plate using disposable pipette tips and a chip with 400 silicon nanoelectrospray nozzles. Hence, it virtually eliminates cross-contamination and greatly improves the efficiency, thereby will significantly enhance the usage of our service.

To test the NanoMate system and the routine operational procedure, free service will be provided to UH users till April 30. Each research group can bring up to 20 samples. Based on the result of the “test drive”, we will submit a new billing rate proposal to reduce the rates for a substantial portion of the service to promote usage. Before approval of the proposal by the Office of Finance, per the bylaw the current billing rates will apply.