The 60th American Society for Mass Spectrometry Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics was held in Vancouver, British Colombia the week of May 19-May24 at the Vancouver Convention Center. The meeting is the largest mass spectrometry meeting in the world and covers the full range of MS related topics, from instrument design to every imaginable application of mass spectrometry.
The city was fantastic, other than occasional light showers. As has been the case for the past 15 or so years, applications related to protein analysis, including protein structure and proteomics, comprised well over half of the presentations. The meeting was attended by approximately 6,000 scientists from across the globe, including researchers from industry and academia as well as a large contingent of vendors. Myself and two members of Michael Goshe’s lab, Laura Edwards and Fan Liu, attended the meeting.
This was Laura’s first ASMS meeting, and she was like a kid at Christmas! She did, however, actually work on the first day of the meeting as an assistant, skillfully guiding meeting attendees to various meetings and short courses while wearing a neat red ASMS uniform and carrying an “Ask Me” sign!
What is referred to as “MudPit” here is not “a pit of mud” but a technique in the mass spectrometry field which stands for “multi-dimensional protein identification technology”, a very powerful approach that has been widely used since the year of its inception in 2001.
Many efficient technologies have been developed to reveal global behaviors of DNA (genome) and RNA (transcriptome), such as DNA-DNA interactions (through chromatin conformation capture on chip) and global gene expression (through transcriptome sequencing). However, the systematic study of proteins (proteome) lags behind the analytical DNA and RNA analysis.
Many scientists out there want to know about the dynamics of a protein or how a protein binds to small molecules. But sometimes that information is hard to get using classical techniques such as X-ray crystallography or NMR.
Maybe your protein is too large (NMR won’t work) or maybe it just won’t crystallize. A mass spec technique called hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) can be useful when you have almost given up and can’t think of anything else to try!