Capillary Electrophoresis Mass Spectrometry

Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is a powerful separation technique. It is especially useful for separation of ionic compounds and chiral mixtures. Mass spectrometry has been coupled with CE to provide a powerful platform for separation and detection of complex mixtures such as combinatorial libraries. However, the full potential of CE in the application of routine analysis of samples has yet to be realized. This is in part due to perceived difficulty in the use of the CE technique compared to the more mature techniques of HPLC and even SFC. Dunayevskiy et al. [136] analyzed a library of 171 theoretically disubstituted xanthene derivatives with a CE/ESI-MS system. The method allowed the purity and makeup of the library to be determined: 160 of the expected compounds were found to be present, and 12 side products were also detected in the mixture. Due to the ability of CE to separate analytes on the basis of charge, most of the xanthene derivatives could be resolved by simple CE-MS procedures even though 124 of the 171 theoretical compounds were isobaric with at least one other molecule in the mixture. Any remaining unresolved peaks were resolved by MS/MS experiments. The method shows promise for the analysis of small combinatorial libraries with fewer than 1000 components. Boutin et al. [137] used CE-MS along with NMR and MS/MS to characterize combinatorial peptide libraries that contain 3-4 variable positions. The CE-MS method was used to provide a rapid and routine method for initial assessment of the construction of the library. Simms et al. [138] developed a micellar electrokinetic chromatography method for the analysis of combinatorial libraries with an open-tube capillary and UV detection. The quick analysis time of the method made it suitable for the analysis of combinatorial library samples. CE-MS was also used in the analysis of combinatorial libraries in affinity screening through the use of affinity capillary electrophoresis (ACE) [139-142].

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