Time-of-flights and traps: From the Histone Code to Mars+

Robert J. Cotter, Stephen Swatkoski, Luann Becker, Theresa Evans-Nguyena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Two very different analytical instruments are featured in this perspective paper on mass spectrometer design and development. The first instrument, based upon the curved-field reflectron developed in the Johns Hopkins Middle Atlantic Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, is a tandem time-of-flight mass spectrometer whose performance and practicality are illustrated by applications to a series of research projects addressing the acetylation, deacetylation and ADP-ribosylation of histone proteins. The chemical derivatization of lysine-rich, hyperacetylated histones as their deuteroacetylated analogs enables one to obtain an accurate quantitative assessment of the extent of acetylation at each site. Chemical acetylation of histone mixtures is also used to determine the lysine targets of sirtuins, an important class of histone deacetylases (HDACs), by replacing the deacetylated residues with biotin. Histone deacetylation by sirtuins requires the co-factor NAD+, as does the attachment of ADP-ribose. The second instrument, a low voltage and low power ion trap mass spectrometer known as the Mars Organic Mass Analyzer (MOMA), is a prototype for an instrument expected to be launched in 2018. Like the tandem mass spectrometer, it is also expected to have applicability to environmental and biological analyses and, ultimately, to clinical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-340
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Collision-induced dissociation (CID)
  • Histone
  • Histone acetyl transferase (HAT)
  • Histone deacetylase (HDAC)
  • Mars
  • Mars organic mass analyzer (MOMA)
  • Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI)
  • Reflectron curved-field reflectron (CFR)
  • Time-of-flight (TOF)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Spectroscopy

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