The preparation and characterization of a new trypsin-based bioreactor is here described for on-line protein digestion and peptide analysis. Trypsin was immobilized on an epoxy-modified silica monolithic support with a single reaction step and the amount of immobilized enzyme was found to be 66.07 mg (±11.75 S.D.)/column (n = 6). The bioreactor was coupled through a switching valve to an analytical column for the on-line digestion, peptide separation and identification of test proteins by ESI-MS–MS. The influence of various parameters (flow rate, temperature, buffer pH and molarity, etc.) on enzymatic activity was investigated by an experimental design and the mostly significant factor was found to be the flow rate. The efficacy of the reported on-line bioreactor for tryptic mapping is reported for somatostatin and myoglobin, selected as model compounds. Tryptic peptide maps obtained by on-line digestion of myoglobin were compared to those obtained by traditional off-line digestion. Sequence coverage obtained with the on-line protocol (21 peptides, 75.16% coverage of myoglobin sequence) was found to be comparable to the one obtained with the off-line protocol (18 peptides, 76.47% coverage). Sensitivity for myoglobin digestion and identification was 0.1 mg/ml. The reproducibily of the peptide maps in terms of retention time was from 1.53 to 4.31%, R.S.D.
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