Peptidylation for the determination of low-molecular-weight compounds by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry†
Determination of low-molecular-weight compounds by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) has been a great challenge in the analytical research field. Here we developed a universal peptide-based derivatization (peptidylation) strategy for the sensitive analysis of low-molecular-weight compounds by MALDI-TOF-MS. Upon peptidylation, the molecular weights of target analytes increase, thus avoiding serious matrix ion interference in the low-molecular-weight region in MALDI-TOF-MS. Since peptides typically exhibit good signal response during MALDI-TOF-MS analysis, peptidylation endows high detection sensitivities of low-molecular-weight analytes. As a proof-of-concept, we analyzed low-molecular-weight compounds of aldehydes and thiols by the developed peptidylation strategy. Our results showed that aldehydes and thiols can be readily determined upon peptidylation, thus realizing the sensitive and efficient determination of low-molecular-weight compounds by MALDI-TOF-MS. Moreover, target analytes also can be unambiguously detected in biological samples using the peptidylation strategy. The established peptidylation strategy is a universal strategy and can be extended to the sensitive analysis of various low-molecular-weight compounds by MALDI-TOF-MS, which may be potentially used in areas such as metabolomics.