Activity-based probes linked with laser-cleavable mass tags for signal amplification in imaging mass spectrometry: analysis of serine hydrolase enzymes in mammalian tissue.
A novel functional imaging mass spectrometry technology is described that utilizes activity-based probes for imaging enzyme active sites in tissue sections. We demonstrate this technology using an activity-based probe (fluorophosphate) that is specific for serine hydrolases. A dendrimer containing multiple mass tags that is attached to the activity-based probe is used to analyze the binding sites of the probe through release and measurement of the mass tags on laser irradiation. A generation 8 poly(amido amine) dendrimer with 1024 amino groups was labeled with an azide group, and then, more than 900 mass tags were attached in order to achieve signal amplification of nearly 3 orders of magnitude. The experimental protocol first involves binding of the activity-based probe containing an alkyne group to serine hydrolases in the tissue section followed by attachment of the dendrimer labeled with mass tags to the bound probe by Click chemistry. On irradiation of the labeled tissue by the laser beam in a raster pattern, the mass tags are liberated and recorded by the mass analyzer; consequently, the ion image of the mass tag reveals the distribution of serine hydrolases in the tissue. This process was shown using rat brain and mouse embryo sections. Targeted imaging has the advantage of providing high spatial resolution and high sensitivity through the use of signal amplification chemistry with high target specificity through the use of an enzyme activity probe.