Targeted multiplex imaging mass spectrometry in transmission geometry for subcellular spatial resolution.
Targeted multiplex imaging mass spectrometry utilizes several different antigen-specific primary antibodies, each directly labeled with a unique photocleavable mass tag, to detect multiple antigens in a single tissue section. Each photocleavable mass tag bound to an antibody has a unique molecular weight and can be readily ionized by laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry. This article describes a mass spectrometry method that allows imaging of targeted single cells within tissue using transmission geometry laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry. Transmission geometry focuses the laser beam on the back side of the tissue placed on a glass slide, providing a 2 μm diameter laser spot irradiating the biological specimen. This matrix-free method enables simultaneous localization at the sub-cellular level of multiple antigens using specific tagged antibodies. We have used this technology to visualize the co-expression of synaptophysin and two major hormones peptides, insulin and somatostatin, in duplex assays in beta and delta cells contained in a human pancreatic islet.