A new, general method of immunoassay is demonstrated. The approach is based on the microscale immunoaffinity capture of target antigens followed by mass-specific identification and quantitation using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Immunoaffinity capture of antigens effectively overcomes signal suppression effects typically encountered during traditional matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization analysis of complex biological mixtures while simultaneously concentrating the analyte into a small volume. Mass spectrometric detection of antigens is unambiguous, as antigen signals are observed at characteristic mass-to-charge values in the mass spectrum, offering a high level of immunity to artifacts due to nonbiospecific retention of mixture components. However, the most important aspect of such mass-specific detection is the ability to use a single assay to screen biological systems for the presence of multiple, mass-resolved antigens. Analyte quantitation is possible by using a single antibody to capture both the antigen and an antigen variant which has been chemically modified to have a different mass. With proper calibration, the relative signal intensities of the two species in the mass spectrum can be used to determine the antigen concentration. Sample incubation and processing methods were such that a typical analysis could be performed in less than 1 h while subnanomolar sensitivities were maintained. The technique has been used for the rapid, selective, and quantitative screening of human blood for the presence of myotoxin a, and Mojave toxin from the venoms of the prairie rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis viridis, and the Mojave rattlesnake, Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry