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Proceedings Paper

Laser desorption mass spectrometry for DNA analysis and sequencing
Author(s): C. H. Winston Chen; N. I. Taranenko; K. Tang; S. L. Allman
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Paper Abstract

Laser desorption mass spectrometry has been considered as a potential new method for fast DNA sequencing. Our approach is to use matrix-assisted laser desorption to produce parent ions of DNA segments and a time-of-flight mass spectrometer to identify the sizes of DNA segments. Thus, the approach is similar to gel electrophoresis sequencing using Sanger's enzymatic method. However, gel, radioactive tagging, and dye labeling are not required. In addition, the sequencing process can possibly be finished within a few hundred microseconds instead of hours and days. In order to use mass spectrometry for fast DNA sequencing, the following three criteria need to be satisfied. They are (1) detection of large DNA segments, (2) sensitivity reaching the femtomole region, and (3) mass resolution good enough to separate DNA segments of a single nucleotide difference. It has been very difficult to detect large DNA segments by mass spectrometry before due to the fragile chemical properties of DNA and low detection sensitivity of DNA ions. We discovered several new matrices to increase the production of DNA ions. By innovative design of a mass spectrometer, we can increase the ion energy up to 45 KeV to enhance the detection sensitivity. Recently, we succeeded in detecting a DNA segment with 500 nucleotides. The sensitivity was 100 femtomole. Thus, we have fulfilled two key criteria for using mass spectrometry for fast DNA sequencing. The major effort in the near future is to improve the resolution. Different approaches are being pursued. When high resolution of mass spectrometry can be achieved and automation of sample preparation is developed, the sequencing speed to reach 500 megabases per year can be feasible.

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 April 1995
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 2386, Ultrasensitive Instrumentation for DNA Sequencing and Biochemical Diagnostics, (3 April 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.206027
Show Author Affiliations
C. H. Winston Chen, Oak Ridge National Lab. (United States)
N. I. Taranenko, Oak Ridge National Lab. (United States)
K. Tang, Oak Ridge National Lab. (United States)
S. L. Allman, Oak Ridge National Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2386:
Ultrasensitive Instrumentation for DNA Sequencing and Biochemical Diagnostics
Gerald E. Cohn; Jeremy M. Lerner; Kevin J. Liddane; Alexander Scheeline; Steven A. Soper, Editor(s)

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