Flow-injection electrospray ionization mass spectrometry of crude cell extracts for high-throughput bacterial identification.
The ability to rapidly identify the taxonomic class of the wide variety of microorganisms involved in human and animal disease is becoming increasingly important, especially with the increasing development of resistance to the antibiotics which form the main defence against them. A number of groups have recognised the utility of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry MALDI-TOF in the analysis of these microorganisms. However, no consistent methodology has been developed which is in general use. In particular the use of different solvent extraction systems and mass spectrometric matrices can have significant effects on the quality of the data obtained. We have now studied a number of the commonly used matrices and a range of solvent systems of widely varying polarity in an attempt to devise an optimum analytical strategy for the rapid characterisation of these organisms by MALDI-TOFMS. The E. coli ATCC 9637 organisms were initially washed to remove growth medium contaminants, followed by extraction with one of a range of solvents prior to admixing with a number of different single matrices or binary and ternary combinations of these matrices. The results obtained indicate that a binary combination of 2-(4-hydroxyphenylazo)benzoic acid and 2-mercaptobenzothiazole (1:1) as matrix provides the best data after the proteinaceous material from the organism cell surface was extracted with 17% formic acid, 33% isopropyl alcohol and 50% water, (solvent 2 in this work).