The Determination of Protease Specificity in Mouse Tissue Extracts by MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometry: Manipulating PH to Cause Specificity Changes

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Proteases have several biological functions, including protein activation/inactivation and food digestion. Identifying protease specificity is important for revealing protease function. The method proposed in this study determines protease specificity by measuring the molecular weight of unique substrates using Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry. The substrates contain iminobiotin, while the cleaved site consists of amino acids, and the spacer consists of polyethylene glycol. The cleaved substrate will generate a unique molecular weight using a cleaved amino acid. One of the merits of this method is that it may be carried out in one pot using crude samples, and it is also suitable for assessing multiple samples. In this article, we describe a simple experimental method optimized with samples extracted from mouse lung tissue, including tissue extraction, placement of digestive substrates into samples, purification of digestive substrates under different pH conditions, and measurement of the substrates' molecular weight using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. In summary, this technique allows for the identification of protease specificity in crude samples derived from tissue extracts using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, which may easily be scaled up for multiple sample processing.