Proton transfer in time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry studies of frozen-hydrated dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine

Thomas P. Roddy, Donald M. Cannon, Sara G. Ostrowski, Andrew G. Ewing, Nicholas Winograd

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58 Scopus citations


A frozen water matrix, as found in freeze-fractured frozen-hydrated cellular samples, enhances the ionization of phosphatidylcholine lipids with static time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS). Isotopic profiles of the phosphocholine ion from deuterated forms of dipalmitoylphosphafidylcholine (DPPC) have been examined under various sample preparation conditions to show that ionization occurs through protonation from the matrix and is enhanced by the water present in freeze-fractured samples. The ionization of DPPC results in positively charged fragment ions, primarily phosphocholine, with a m/z of 184. Other ions include the M + H ion (m/z 735) and an ion representing the abstraction of the two palmitoyl fatty acid groups (m/z 224). Freeze-fracture techniques have been used to prepare frozen aqueous samples such as liposomes and cells to expose their membranes for static TOF-SIMS imaging. Due to the importance of surface water during SIMS analyses, sources of gas-phase water resulting from freeze-fracture were examined. Under proper fracturing conditions, water vapor, resulting from water in the sample and water condensed onto the outside of the sample, is released into the vacuum but does not condense back onto the surface. Combining the demonstrated enhancement of phosphatidylcholine lipid signal from water with the freeze-fracture preparation techniques described herein demonstrates potential advantages of studying biological samples in a frozen-hydrated state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4087-4094
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry


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