Cell-to-cell chemical signaling plays multiple roles in coordinating the activity of the functional elements of an organism, with these elements ranging from a three-neuron reflex circuit to the entire animal. In recent years, single-cell mass spectrometry (MS) has enabled the discovery of cell-to-cell signaling molecules from the nervous system of a number of invertebrates. We describe a protocol for analyzing individual cells from rat pituitary using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization MS. Each step in the sample preparation process, including cell stabilization, isolation, sample preparation, signal acquisition and data interpretation, is detailed here. Although we employ this method to investigate peptides in individual pituitary cells, it can be adapted to other cell types and even subcellular sections from a range of animals. This protocol allows one to obtain 20-30 individual cell samples and acquire mass spectra from them in a single day.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)