Mass spectrometry of nucleic acids: the promise of matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry.
In the past several years, significant progress has been made in the application of matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry to the analysis of large biopolymers, including nucleic acids. By isolating analyte molecules in an appropriate matrix and irradiating the sample with a high-intensity, pulsed laser beam, MALDI can generate intact, gas-phase ions of these analytes. Primarily used with time-of-flight mass spectrometers, this relatively new, soft ionization technique has allowed for the routine analysis of oligonucleotides up to 60 or so nucleotides in length. Recent results have also shown that base specific, matrix-dependent fragmentation is an important factor in the MALDI analysis of oligonucleotides. Further extension of the technique to longer oligonucleotides will rely on both the continued search for new matrix materials and an increased understanding of the desorption and ionization process in MALDI.
Fitzgerald, MC; Smith, LM
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