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Integration of an In Situ MALDI-Based High-Throughput Screening Process: A Case Study with Receptor Tyrosine Kinase c-MET

SLAS Discovery
August 18, 2017

Mass spectrometry (MS) is known for its label-free detection of substrates and products from a variety of enzyme reactions. Recent hardware improvements have increased interest in the use of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MS for high-throughput drug discovery. Despite interest in this technology, several challenges remain and must be overcome before MALDI-MS can be integrated as an automated “in-line reader” for high-throughput drug discovery. Two such hurdles include in situ sample processing and deposition, as well as integration of MALDI-MS for enzymatic screening assays that usually contain high levels of MS-incompatible components. Here we adapt our c-MET kinase assay to optimize for MALDI-MS compatibility and test its feasibility for compound screening. The pros and cons of the Echo (Labcyte) as a transfer system for in situ MALDI-MS sample preparation are discussed. We demonstrate that this method generates robust data in a 1536-grid format. We use the MALDI-MS to directly measure the ratio of c-MET substrate and phosphorylated product to acquire IC50 curves and demonstrate that the pharmacology is unaffected. The resulting IC50 values correlate well between the common label-based capillary electrophoresis and the label-free MALDI-MS detection method. We predict that label-free MALDI-MS-based high-throughput screening will become increasingly important and more widely used for drug discovery.