Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (v.408, #15)

Robert Kellner Lecture awarded to ABC author Bernhard Lendl by Nicola Oberbeckmann-Winter (3925-3927).

In this work, a novel EC-QCL-based setup for mid-IR transmission measurements in the amide I region is introduced for monitoring dynamic changes in secondary structure of proteins. For this purpose, α-chymotrypsin (aCT) acts as a model protein, which gradually forms intermolecular β-sheet aggregates after adopting a non-native α-helical structure induced by exposure to 50 % TFE. In order to showcase the versatility of the presented setup, the effects of varying pH values and protein concentration on the rate of β-aggregation were studied. The influence of the pH value on the initial reaction rate was studied in the range of pH 5.8–8.2. Results indicate an increased aggregation rate at elevated pH values. Furthermore, the widely accessible concentration range of the laser-based IR transmission setup was utilized to investigate β-aggregation across a concentration range of 5–60 mg mL−1. For concentrations lower than 20 mg mL−1, the aggregation rate appears to be independent of concentration. At higher values, the reaction rate increases linearly with protein concentration. Extended MCR-ALS was employed to obtain pure spectral and concentration profiles of the temporal transition between α-helices and intermolecular β-sheets. Comparison of the global solutions obtained by the modelled data with results acquired by the laser-based IR transmission setup at different conditions shows excellent agreement. This demonstrates the potential and versatility of the EC-QCL-based IR transmission setup to monitor dynamic changes of protein secondary structure in aqueous solution at varying conditions and across a wide concentration range. Graphical abstract EC-QCL IR spectroscopy for monitoring protein conformation change
Keywords: Quantum cascade laser; Infrared spectroscopy; Multivariate curve resolution-alternating least squares; Protein secondary structure; Aggregation; 2,2,2-Trifluoroethanol

Label-free C-reactive protein electronic detection with an electrolyte-gated organic field-effect transistor-based immunosensor by Maria Magliulo; Donato De Tullio; Inger Vikholm-Lundin; Willem M. Albers; Tony Munter; Kyriaki Manoli; Gerardo Palazzo; Luisa Torsi (3943-3952).
In this contribution, we propose a label-free immunosensor, based on a novel type of electrolyte-gated field-effect transistor (EGOFET), for ultrasensitive detection of the C-reactive protein (CRP). The recognition layer of the biosensor is fabricated by physical adsorption of the anti-CRP monoclonal antibody onto a poly-3-hexyl thiophene (P3HT) organic semiconductor surface. A supplementary nonionic hydrophilic polymer is used as a blocking agent preventing nonspecific interactions and allowing a better orientation of the antibodies immobilized onto the P3HT surface. The whole biomolecule immobilization procedure does not require any pretreatment of the organic semiconductor surface, and the whole functionalization process is completed in less than 30 min. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) measurements were performed to assess the amount of biomolecules physisorbed onto the P3HT and to evaluate the CRP binding proprieties of the deposited anti-CRP layer. A partial surface coverage of about 23 % of adsorbed antibody molecules was found to most efficiently sense the CRP. The electrical performance of the EGOFET immunosensor was comparable to that of a bare P3HT EGOFET device, and the obtained CRP calibration curve was linear over six orders of magnitude (from 4 pM to 2 μM). The relative standard deviation of the individual calibration points, measured on immunosensors fabricated on different chips, ranged between 1 and 14 %, and a detection limit of 2 pM (220 ng/L) was established. The novel electronic immunosensor is compatible with low-cost fabrication procedures and was successfully employed for the detection of the CRP biomarker in the clinically relevant matrix serum. Graphical abstract Schematic of the EGOFET immunosensor for CRP detection. The anti-CRP monoclonal antibody layer is physisorbed on the P3HT organic semiconductor and the CRP is directly measured by a label-free electronic EGOFET transducer
Keywords: C-reactive protein; Immunosensor; Label-free electronic detection; Electrolyte-gated organic field-effect transistor

This work demonstrates that the chromatographic separation performed at highly stabilized elevated temperature results in significant improvements in sensitivity, quantitative accuracy, chromatographic resolution, and run-to-run reproducibility of nanoLC-MS analysis of complex peptides mixtures. A newly developed platform was shown to provide conditions for accurate temperature stabilization and temperature homogeneity when performing nanoLC-ESI MS analysis. We quantitatively assessed and compared the recovery of peptides and small proteins from nanoLC columns at room and elevated temperatures. We found that analyses performed at highly stabilized elevated temperatures led to improved detection sensitivity, reproducibility, and chromatographic resolution in reversed-phase LC separation of unmodified peptides (both hydrophilic and hydrophobic), post-translationally modified peptides (O-phosphorylated), and small intact proteins. The analytical benefits of elevated temperatures for qualitative and quantitative proteomic LC-MS profiling were demonstrated using mixtures of synthetic peptides, tryptic digests of mixtures of model proteins, and digested total lysates of isolated rat kidney mitochondria. The effect of elevated temperature on the ion suppression was also demonstrated. Graphical Abstract A fragment of overlaid LC retention time-m/z planar views demonstrates the improved separation performance in the analysis of a complex peptide mixture at elevated temperature. Retention time-m/z 2D peptide features detected at 60 °C (magenta) were matched and aligned with features detected at room temperature (green)
Keywords: Proteins and protein digests; NanoLC-MS analysis; Separations at elevated temperature

Mitigation of microtiter plate positioning effects using a block randomization scheme by Christopher Roselle; Thorsten Verch; Mary Shank-Retzlaff (3969-3979).
Microtiter plate-based assays are a common tool in biochemical and analytical labs. Despite widespread use, results generated in microtiter plate-based assays are often impacted by positional bias, in which variability in raw signal measurements are not uniform in all regions of the plate. Since small positional effects can disproportionately affect assay results and the reliability of the data, an effective mitigation strategy is critical. Commonly used mitigation strategies include avoiding the use of outer regions of the plate, replicating treatments within and between plates, and randomizing placement of treatments within and between plates. These strategies often introduce complexity while only partially mitigating positional effects and significantly reducing assay throughput. To reduce positional bias more effectively, we developed a novel block-randomized plate layout. Unlike a completely randomized layout, the block randomization scheme coordinates placement of specific curve regions into pre-defined blocks on the plate based on key experimental findings and assumptions about the distribution of assay bias and variability. Using the block-randomized plate layout, we demonstrated a mean bias reduction of relative potency estimates from 6.3 to 1.1 % in a sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) used for vaccine release. In addition, imprecision in relative potency estimates decreased from 10.2 to 4.5 % CV. Using simulations, we also demonstrated the impact of assay bias on measurement confidence and its relation to replication strategies. We outlined the underlying concepts of the block randomization scheme to potentially apply to other microtiter-based assays.
Keywords: ELISA; Randomisation; Positional effects; Relative potency assay; Microtiter plate bias

Development and validation of an LC-ESI-MS/MS method for the simultaneous quantification of naproxen and sumatriptan in human plasma: application to a pharmacokinetic study by Juliana Machado Brêtas; Isabela Costa César; Camila Machado Brêtas; Leonardo de Souza Teixeira; Karini Bruno Bellorio; Iram Moreira Mundim; Gerson Antônio Pianetti (3981-3992).
A sensitive and fast liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS) method was developed and validated for the simultaneous quantification of naproxen and sumatriptan in human plasma. A simple liquid-liquid extraction procedure, with a mixture of ethyl acetate, methyl tert-butyl ether, and dichloromethane (4:3:3, v/v), was used for the cleanup of plasma. Naratriptan and aceclofenac were employed as internal standards. The analyses were carried out using an ACE C18 column (50 × 4.6 mm i.d.; particle size 5 μm) and a mobile phase consisting of 2 mM aqueous ammonium acetate with 0.025 % formic acid and methanol (38:62, v/v). A triple-quadrupole mass spectrometer equipped with an electrospray source in the positive mode was set up in the selective reaction monitoring mode to detect the ion transitions m/z 231.67 → m/z 185.07, m/z 296.70 → m/z 157.30, m/z 354.80 → m/z 215.00, and m/z 336.80 → m/z 97.94 for naproxen, sumatriptan, aceclofenac, and naratriptan, respectively. The method was validated and proved to be linear, accurate, precise, and selective over the ranges of 2.5–130 μg mL−1 for naproxen and 1–50 ng mL−1 for sumatriptan. The validated method was successfully applied to a pharmacokinetic study with simultaneous administration of naproxen sodium and sumatriptan succinate tablet formulations in healthy volunteers.
Keywords: Naproxen; Sumatriptan; LC-ESI-MS/MS; Human plasma; Pharmacokinetics

A Raman “spectroscopic clock” for bloodstain age determination: the first week after deposition by Kyle C. Doty; Gregory McLaughlin; Igor K. Lednev (3993-4001).
Knowing the time since deposition (TSD) of an evidentiary bloodstain is highly desired in forensics, yet it can be extremely complicated to accurately determine in practice. Although there have been numerous attempts to solve this problem using a variety of different techniques, currently, no established, well-accepted method exists. Here, a Raman spectroscopic approach was developed for determining the age of bloodstains up to 1 week old. Raman spectroscopy, along with two-dimensional correlation spectroscopy (2D CoS) and statistical modeling, was used to analyze fresh bloodstains at ten time points under ambient conditions. The 2D CoS results indicate a high correlation between several Raman bands and the age of a bloodstain. A regression model was built to provide quantitative predictions of the TSD, with cross-validated root mean squared error and R 2 values of 0.13 and 0.97, respectively. It was determined that a “new” (1 h) bloodstain could be easily distinguished from older bloodstains, which is very important for forensic science in helping to establish the relevant association of multiple bloodstains. Additionally, all bloodstains were confirmatively identified as blood by comparing the experimentally measured spectra to multidimensional body fluid spectroscopic signatures of blood, saliva, semen, sweat, and vaginal fluid. These results demonstrate that Raman spectroscopy can be used as a nondestructive analytical tool for discriminating between bloodstains on the scale of hours to days. This approach shows promise for immediate practical use in the field to predict the TSD with a high degree of accuracy. Graphical Abstract Bloodstain aging over time illustrating naturally ocurring processes
Keywords: Forensic; Blood; Chemometrics; Aging; Two-dimensional correlation spectroscopy; Time since deposition

The size (hydrodynamic or Stokes radius, R H) of non-functionalized CdSeS/ZnS (core/shell) quantum dots (QDs) was characterized by size-exclusion chromatography with on-line quasi-elastic light scattering (SEC/QELS). Accurate determination of the size of QDs is important, because many of the optical properties of these materials are size dependent. A clear advantage of SEC/QELS over many batch techniques (e.g., QELS without separation) is the capability of the hyphenated technique to characterize the entire size range of a disperse sample, rather than merely providing a statistical average of the sizes present. Here, the SEC/QELS-determined R H values of CdSeS/ZnS QDs are compared to those determined by a traditional SEC experiment employing a calibration curve based on polystyrene standards, providing for the first reported study on SEC/QELS of non-functionalized QDs while also demonstrating the shortcomings of the widely-employed calibration curve approach. Furthermore, combining the R H of the QDs obtained by SEC/QELS with core size measurements derived from transmission electron microscopy allowed further calculation of the size of the QDs’ coronas. The latter result was found to be in close agreement to the previously measured dimension of the main corona constituent, as well as with the calculated size of this constituent.
Keywords: Quantum dots; Size-exclusion chromatography; Quasi-elastic light scattering; Hydrodynamic radius; Transmission electron microscopy; Core and corona dimensions

Polydopamine-coated magnetic nanoparticles for isolation and enrichment of estrogenic compounds from surface water samples followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry determination by Anna Laura Capriotti; Chiara Cavaliere; Giorgia La Barbera; Susy Piovesana; Roberto Samperi; Riccardo Zenezini Chiozzi; Aldo Laganà (4011-4020).
Estrogens, phytoestrogens, and mycoestrogens may enter into the surface waters from different sources, such as effluents of municipal wastewater treatment plants, industrial plants, and animal farms and runoff from agricultural areas. In this work, a multiresidue analytical method for the determination of 17 natural estrogenic compounds, including four steroid estrogens, six mycoestrogens, and seven phytoestrogens, in river water samples has been developed. (Fe3O4)-based magnetic nanoparticles coated by polydopamine (Fe3O4@pDA) were used for dispersive solid-phase extraction, and the final extract was analyzed by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. The Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles were prepared by a co-precipitation procedure, coated by pDA, and characterized by scanning electron microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and elemental analysis. The sample preparation method was optimized in terms of extraction recovery, matrix effect, selectivity, trueness, precision, method limits of detection, and method limits of quantification (MLOQs). For all the 17 analytes, recoveries were >70 % and matrix effects were below 30 % when 25 mL of river water sample was treated with 90 mg of Fe3O4@pDA nanoparticles. Selectivity was tested by spiking river water samples with 50 other compounds (mycotoxins, antibacterials, conjugated hormones, UV filters, alkylphenols, etc.), and only aflatoxins and some benzophenones showed recoveries >60 %. This method proved to be simple and robust and allowed the determination of natural estrogenic compounds belonging to different classes in surface waters with MLOQs ranging between 0.003 and 0.1 μg L−1. Graphical Abstract Determination of natural estrogenic compounds in water by magnetic solid phase extraction followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analysis
Keywords: Estrogens; Phytoestrogens; Mycoestrogens; Polydopamine; Magnetic nanoparticles; Dispersive solid-phase extraction

Stability issues in the determination of 19 urinary (free and conjugated) monohydroxy polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by Éric Gaudreau; René Bérubé; Jean-François Bienvenu; Normand Fleury (4021-4033).
Data on the stability of monohydroxy polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (OH-PAHs; metabolites of PAHs) in urine are needed in order to effectively study the effects of PAHs in the body, but the relevant data are not available in the literature. Therefore, in this work, we investigated the stability of OH-PAHs in urine. For each OH-PAH studied, the free form (as opposed to the conjugated form) comprised <10 % of the total OH-PAH in urine samples obtained from a normal population, except for 9-OH-phenanthrene (where the free form represented 22.2 % of the total 9-OH-phenanthrene). 1-Naphthol and 9-OH-phenanthrene were found to be less stable in their free forms in urine than in their conjugated forms when the urine samples were stored at 4 °C or room temperature. Free 3-OH-fluoranthene was also very unstable at 4 °C or room temperature. The conjugated forms of the OH-PAHs were more stable than their corresponding free forms. However, the free and conjugated forms of all the OH-PAHs were stable in urine at −20 °C and −80 °C. A freeze and thaw assay also revealed that freezing and thawing had minimal impact on the stability of the OH-PAHs in urine. For the derivatized extracts, storing the samples under an argon atmosphere at 4 °C was found to maintain sample integrity. In order to measure the stabilities of 19 hydroxylated metabolites of PAHs in urine, we developed a method with sensitivity in the low pg/mL range using nine labeled internal standards. This method combined enzymatic deconjugation with liquid–liquid extraction, derivatization with N-methyl-N-(trimethylsilyl)trifluoroacetamide (MSTFA), and gas chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS). Graphical abstract Stability of the conjugated forms of the OH-PAHs versus free forms (e.g. 1-naphthol)
Keywords: Stability in urine; Free and conjugated metabolites; Freeze and thaw; Monohydroxy polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Gas chromatography; Tandem mass spectrometry

Single particle analysis of herpes simplex virus: comparing the dimensions of one and the same virions via atomic force and scanning electron microscopy by Evelyn Kämmer; Isabell Götz; Thomas Bocklitz; Stephan Stöckel; Andrea Dellith; Dana Cialla-May; Karina Weber; Roland Zell; Jan Dellith; Volker Deckert; Jürgen Popp (4035-4041).
Currently, two types of direct methods to characterize and identify single virions are available: electron microscopy (EM) and scanning probe techniques, especially atomic force microscopy (AFM). AFM in particular provides morphologic information even of the ultrastructure of viral specimens without the need to cultivate the virus and to invasively alter the sample prior to the measurements. Thus, AFM can play a critical role as a frontline method in diagnostic virology. Interestingly, varying morphological parameters for virions of the same type can be found in the literature, depending on whether AFM or EM was employed and according to the respective experimental conditions during the AFM measurements. Here, an inter-methodological proof of principle is presented, in which the same single virions of herpes simplex virus 1 were probed by AFM previously and after they were measured by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Sophisticated chemometric analyses then allowed a calculation of morphological parameters of the ensemble of single virions and a comparison thereof. A distinct decrease in the virions’ dimensions was found during as well as after the SEM analyses and could be attributed to the sample preparation for the SEM measurements. Graphical abstract The herpes simplex virus is investigated with scanning electron and atomic force microscopy in view of varying dimensions
Keywords: Atomic force microscopy; Scanning electron microscopy; Herpes simplex virus ; Image analysis

A modified QuEChERS approach for the screening of dioxins and furans in sediments by Liad Haimovici; Eric J. Reiner; Sladjana Besevic; Karl J. Jobst; Matthew Robson; Terry Kolic; Karen MacPherson (4043-4054).
A rapid extraction and cleanup method for the screening of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans in sediments is described which combines a modified QuEChERS extraction with carbon reversed-phase solid phase extraction cleanup. This approach is compared to the classical Soxhlet extraction and multi-column cleanup method in terms of toxic equivalence quotients (TEQs), precision, instrumental chromatography, method detection limits (MDLs), recovery of 13C-labelled quantitation standard, sample preparation time, workload capacity, and sustainability factors. TEQs of 32 sediment samples were found to be well correlated and differed by 16 ± 10 % between the two methods. Certified and standard reference sediments differed by 4.1 and 6.7 %, respectively. Precision and instrumental chromatography were comparable. While the modified QuEChERS method had higher MDLs and lower recoveries, in terms of preparation time and workload capacity, the modified QuEChERS approach can prepare approximately 30 samples per day as compared to 10–20 samples in 3 to 4 days for the classic method. The modified QuEChERS method was also found to be safer and greener. The appreciable improvement in capacity makes the modified QuEChERS approach a suitable alternative to the classical method for applications where turnaround time and the number of samples that can be analyzed are more important than minimal detection limits. Graphical Abstract Created using Microsoft Paint for Windows 7 Professional A bar graph with the structures of dioxins and furans on the x axis shows agreement between two sets of data. A legend labels the first set of data as Soxhlet. The Soxhlet set is illustrated as four days crossed off of a calendar page, a Soxhlet extractor, and several packed chromatography columns. The legend identifies the second set of data as QuEChERS. The QuEChERS set is represented by a clock face marked with twenty four hours, two centrifuge tubes containing the sediment and reagents before and after salting out, and a carbon column attached to a reservoir
Keywords: QuEChERS; PCDD/ PCDF screening; Sediment; Extraction; Ultrasonication

CIEF-CZE-MS applying a mechanical valve by Jens Hühner; Christian Neusüß (4055-4061).
Separation and determination of proteins by capillary isoelectric focusing (CIEF) and mass spectrometry (MS) are essential and complementary techniques in the field of bioanalysis. The hyphenation of these two techniques is challenging due to the nonvolatile substances required for the CIEF separation. An additional separation step prior to MS enables the removal of the nonvolatile substances. However, it is complicated due to the small transfer volume and the required high voltages in the CIEF process. In order to remove nonvolatile substances and transfer the analytes toward the mass spectrometer, we applied a four-port valve to couple CIEF online to capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry. To demonstrate the power of this concept, hemoglobin and glycated hemoglobin with an isoelectric point difference of 0.037 were separated via isoelectric focusing and characterized by MS. In general, this setup guaranties interference-free mass spectra and will provide an information-rich and sensitive top down protein characterization. Graphical abstract Interference free coupling of capillary isoelectric focusing to mass spectrometry by applying a mechanical valve. The focused proteins were tranferred from the isoelectric focusing to capillary electrophoresis by a mechanical valve. Afterwards, the transferred protein was sepearated from ionization interfering substances in the capillary electrophoresis prior to the mass spectrometry detection.
Keywords: Capillary isoelectric focusing; Mass spectrometry; Online hyphenation; Protein; Two-dimensional separation

Ultra-trace levels analysis of microcystins and nodularin in surface water by on-line solid-phase extraction with high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry by Lydia Balest; Sapia Murgolo; Lucia Sciancalepore; Patrizia Montemurro; Pier Paolo Abis; Carlo Pastore; Giuseppe Mascolo (4063-4071).
An on-line solid phase extraction coupled with high-performance liquid chromatography in tandem with mass spectrometry (on-line SPE/HPLC/MS-MS) method for the determination of five microcystins and nodularin in surface waters at submicrogram per liter concentrations has been optimized. Maximum recoveries were achieved by carefully optimizing the extraction sample volume, loading solvent, wash solvent, and pH of the sample. The developed method was also validated according to both UNI EN ISO IEC 17025 and UNICHIM guidelines. Specifically, ten analytical runs were performed at three different concentration levels using a reference mix solution containing the six analytes. The method was applied for monitoring the concentrations of microcystins and nodularin in real surface water during a sampling campaign of 9 months in which the ELISA method was used as standard official method. The results of the two methods were compared showing good agreement when the highest concentration values of MCs were found. Graphical abstract An on-line SPE/HPLC/MS-MS method for the determination of five microcystins and nodularin in surface waters at sub μg L−1 was optimized and compared with ELISA assay method for real samples
Keywords: Microcystins; Demethylated microcystins; On-line SPE/HPLC/MS-MS

Ageing of resin from Pinus species assessed by infrared spectroscopy by Victòria Beltran; Nati Salvadó; Salvador Butí; Trinitat Pradell (4073-4082).
Resins obtained from Pinus genus species have been widely used in very different fields throughout history. As soon as the resins are secreted, molecular changes start altering their chemical, mechanical and optical properties. The ageing processes are complex, and the chemical and structural changes associated with resin degradation are not yet fully known. Many questions still remain open, for instance changes happening in pimaranes, one of the two diterpenoid constituents of the resin. A systematic study of the ageing process of Pinus resins is done through Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) using chemical standards and complementing the obtained results with gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis when necessary. Moreover, long-term degradation processes are also investigated through the analysis of a selection of dated historical resins. This study overcomes the limitations of GC/MS and brings new information about the reactions and interactions between molecules during Pinus resin ageing processes. It also provides information about which bonds are affected and unaffected, and these can be used as specific markers of the degradation and of the resins themselves. Graphical Abstract Changes in the IR spectral features due to the Pinus resin ageing processes
Keywords: Diterpenic resin; IR spectroscopy; Pinus resin; Ageing; Abietanes; Pimaranes

The Raman imaging method was successfully applied for mapping the distribution of biomolecules (e.g., pigments) associated with cryptoendolithic and hypoendolithic microorganisms, as well as the inorganic host mineral matrix that forms the habitat for the biota. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive study in the field of geomicrobiology based on this technique. The studied microbial ecosystem was located nearly 3000 m above sea level within the driest desert on Earth, the Atacama in Chile. Enhancement of carotenoid Raman signal intensity close to the surface was registered at different areas of endolithic colonization dominated by algae, with cyanobacteria present as well. This is interpreted as an adaptation mechanism to the excessive solar irradiation. On the other hand, cyanobacteria synthesize scytonemin as a passive UV-screening pigment (found at both the hypoendolithic and cryptoendolithic positions). The distribution of the scytonemin Raman signal was mapped simultaneously with the surrounding mineral matrix. Thus, mapping was done of the phototrophic microorganisms in their original microhabitat together with the host rock environment. Important information which was resolved from the Raman imaging dataset of the host rock is about the hydration state of Ca-sulfate, demonstrated on the presence of gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O) and the absence of both anhydrite (CaSO4) and bassanite (CaSO4·1/2H2O). Obtaining combined “in situ” simultaneous information from the geological matrix (inorganic) together with the microbial biomolecules (organic) is discussed and concluded as an important advantage of this technique. We discuss how selection of the laser wavelength (785 and 514.5-nm) influences the Raman imaging results.
Keywords: Hyperspectral imaging; Carotenoids; Astrobiology; Photosynthesis; Adaptation strategy; Mars

Detection of nitroaromatic explosives by new D–π–A sensing fluorophores on the basis of the pyrimidine scaffold by Egor V. Verbitskiy; Anna A. Baranova; Kseniya I. Lugovik; Marsel Z. Shafikov; Konstantin O. Khokhlov; Ekaterina M. Cheprakova; Gennady L. Rusinov; Oleg N. Chupakhin; Valery N. Charushin (4093-4101).
A series of D–π–A- type dyes based on pyrimidines, bearing various thiophene linkers, have been studied as sensing fluorophores. Fluorescence studies have demonstrated that the emission of all derivatives is sensitive to the presence of nitroaromatic explosives, such as 2,4,6-trinitrophenol (PA), 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), and 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT), in their acetonitrile solutions. The detection limits of fluorophores to PA, TNT, and DNT proved to be in the range from 5.83 × 10−6 to 2.38 × 10−7 mol/L, 1.70 × 10−4 to 8.40 × 10−6 mol/L, and 8.39 × 10−5 to 6.87 × 10−6 mol/L, respectively. The theoretical investigation into the quenching mechanism in the presence of fluorophore has been performed. All compounds have shown a good efficiency as sensor materials when tested as elements of the original device «Nitroscan» for detecting nitro-containing explosives in vapor phase (Plant "Promautomatika", Ekaterinburg, Russia). Graphical Abstract ᅟ
Keywords: Pyrimidines; Oligothiophene; Nitroaromatic explosives; Fluorescence quenching

The direct inlet probe-electrospray ionization (DIP-ESI) presented here was based on the direct inlet probe-atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (DIP-APCI) developed by our group. It was coupled to an ion trap mass spectrometer (MS) for the detection of more polar compounds such as degradation products from pharmaceuticals. First, the position of the ESI tip, the gas and solvent flow rates, as well as the gas temperature were optimized with the help of the statistic program Minitab® 17 and a caffeine standard. The ability to perform quantitative analyses was also tested by using different concentrations of caffeine and camphor. Calibration curves with a quadratic calibration regression of R 2 = 0.9997 and 0.9998 for caffeine and camphor, respectively, were obtained. The limit of detection of 2.5 and 1.7 ng per injection for caffeine and camphor were determined, respectively. Furthermore, a solution of piracetam was used to compare established analytical methods for this drug and its impurities such as HPLC-diode array detector (DAD) and HPLC-ESI-MS with the DIP-APCI and the developed DIP-ESI. With HPLC-DAD and 10 μg piracetam on column, no impurity could be detected. With HPLC-ESI-MS, two impurities (A and B) were identified with only 4.6 μg piracetam on column, while with DIP-ESI, an amount of 1.6 μg piracetam was sufficient. In the case of the DIP-ESI measurements, all detected impurities could be identified by MS/MS studies. Graphical Abstract Scheme of the DIP-ESI principle
Keywords: Ambient desorption ionization method; DIP-ESI; Direct inlet probe; Pharmaceuticals; Piracetam; DIP-APCI

Detection of protein adduction derived from dauricine by alkaline permethylation by Honglei Xie; Yuyang Liu; Ying Peng; Dongmei Zhao; Jiang Zheng (4111-4119).
Dauricine is a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid derivative and has shown multiple pharmacological properties. Despite this, our previous study demonstrated that dauricine induced severe lung toxicity in experimental animals. Metabolic activation of dauricine to the corresponding quinone methide intermediate is suggested to play an important role in dauricine-induced cytotoxicity. Protein adduction derived from the reactive intermediate is considered to initiate the process of the toxicity. In the present study, we developed an alkaline permethylation- and mass spectrometry-based approach to detect dauricine-derived protein adduction. Protein samples were permethylated in the presence of NaOH and CH3I at 80 °C, followed by LC-MS/MS analysis. A thioether product was produced in the reaction. Not only does this technique quantify dauricine-derived protein adduction but also it tells the nature of the interaction between the target proteins and the reactive intermediate of dauricine. The recovery, precision, limit of detection, limit of quantity, and method detection limit were found to be 102.8 %±1.7 %, 1.89 %, 1.32 fmol/mL, 4.93 fmol/mL and 3.37 fmol/mL respectively. The surrogate recovery and surrogate RSD values were 81.5–103.0 % and 2.59 %, respectively. This analytical method has proven sensitive, selective, reliable, and feasible to assess total protein adduction derived from dauricine, and will facilitate the mechanistic investigation of dauricine and other bisbenzylisoquinoline toxicities. Graphical Abstract Alkaline permethylation of dauricine derived protein adduct
Keywords: Dauricine; Protein adduction; Alkaline permethylation

The main concern pertaining to the safety of Gadolinium(III)-based contrast agents (GBCAs) is the toxicity caused by the unchelated ion, which may be inadvertently present in the solution due most commonly to excess unreacted starting material or dissociation of the complexes. Detecting the aqueous free ion during the synthesis and preparation of GBCA solutions is therefore instrumental in ensuring the safety of the agents. This paper reports the development of a sensitive fluorogenic sensor for aqueous unchelated Gadolinium(III) (Gd(III)). Our design utilizes single-stranded oligodeoxynucleotides with a specific sequence of 44 bases as the targeting moiety. The fluorescence-based assay may be run at ambient pH with very small amounts of samples in 384-well plates. The sensor is able to detect nanomolar concentration of Gd(III), and is relatively unresponsive toward a range of biologically relevant ions and the chelated Gd(III). Although some cross-reactivity with other trivalent lanthanide ions, such as Europium(III) and Terbium(III), is observed, these are not commonly found in biological systems and contrast agents. This convenient and rapid method may be useful in ascertaining a high purity of GBCA solutions. Graphical abstract Fluorescent aptamer-based assay for detecting unchelated Ln(III) ions in aqueous solution
Keywords: Fluorogenic sensor; Aqueous Gd(III) ions; Chemical sensor; Lanthanide ion sensor

Streptavidin conjugation and quantification—a method evaluation for nanoparticles by Pablo Darío Quevedo; Thomas Behnke; Ute Resch-Genger (4133-4149).
Aiming at the development of validated protocols for protein conjugation of nanomaterials and the determination of protein labeling densities, we systematically assessed the conjugation of the model protein streptavidin (SAv) to 100-, 500-, and 1000-nm-sized polystyrene and silica nanoparticles and dye-encoded polymer particles with two established conjugation chemistries, based upon achievable coupling efficiencies and labeling densities. Bioconjugation reactions compared included EDC/sulfo NHS ester chemistry for direct binding of the SAv to carboxyl groups at the particle surface and maleimide-thiol chemistry in conjunction with heterobifunctional PEG linkers and aminated nanoparticles (NPs). Quantification of the total and functional amounts of SAv on these nanomaterials and unreacted SAv in solution was performed with the BCA assay and the biotin–FITC (BF) titration, relying on different signal generation principles, which are thus prone to different interferences. Our results revealed a clear influence of the conjugation chemistry on the amount of NP crosslinking, yet under optimized reaction conditions, EDC/sulfo NHS ester chemistry and the attachment via heterobifunctional PEG linkers led to comparably efficient SAv coupling and good labeling densities. Particle size can obviously affect protein labeling densities and particularly protein functionality, especially for larger particles. For unstained nanoparticles, direct bioconjugation seems to be the most efficient strategy, whereas for dye-encoded nanoparticles, PEG linkers are to be favored for the prevention of dye–protein interactions which can affect protein functionality specifically in the case of direct SAv binding. Moreover, an influence of particle size on achievable protein labeling densities and protein functionality could be demonstrated.
Keywords: Protein quantification; BCA assay; Biotin–FITC titration; Polystyrene nanoparticles; Streptavidin; Staining procedure

A sandwich dipstick assay for ATP detection based on split aptamer fragments by Chao Zhu; Yan Zhao; Mengmeng Yan; Yafei Huang; Jiao Yan; Wenhui Bai; Ailiang Chen (4151-4158).
Aptamer-based strip assay is an easy, highly efficient and low-cost detection method, which has been developed and easily applied to onsite detection. A new sensitive sandwich dipstick assay for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) detection was successfully developed based on specific recognition between split aptamer fragments and the target. In this method, the thiolated aptamer was first conjugated to the surface of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), while the biotin-aptamer was immobilized on the surface of a nitrocellulose filter in the test line. In the presence of ATP, the thiol-aptamer/ATP/biotin-aptamer complexes were generated, which led to an obvious increase in optical signals at the test line. Under the optimal determination conditions, an excellent linear logarithmic response to the ATP concentration was obtained within the range of 0.5 μM to 5 mM. The limit of detection (LOD) of 0.5 μM was reached at a signal-to-noise ratio of 3. The dipstick assay showed a good average recovery of 96–108 % with the RSD of less than 20 % in urine samples. The proposed method exhibited high specificity against other nucleotides such as the uridine triphosphate (UTP), cytidine triphosphate (CTP), and guanosine triphosphate (GTP). The results indicated that the dipstick strip may be considered as an inexpensive screening tool for onsite ATP determination. Graphical Abstract A simple split aptamer fragments based sandwich-type dipstick assay was developed for ATP detection
Keywords: Split aptamer fragments; Dipstick strip; ATP; Gold nanoparticles

A novel automatable enzyme-coupled colorimetric assay for endo-1,4-β-glucanase (cellulase) by David Mangan; Claudio Cornaggia; Vincent McKie; Tadas Kargelis; Barry V. McCleary (4159-4168).
endo-1,4-β-Glucanase (endo-cellulase, EC is one of the most widely used enzymes in industry. Despite its importance, improved methods for the rapid, selective, quantitative assay of this enzyme have been slow to emerge. In 2014, a novel enzyme-coupled assay that addressed many of the limitations of the existing assay methodology was reported. This involved the use of a bifunctional substrate chemically derived from cellotriose. Reported herein is a much improved version of this assay employing a novel substrate, namely 4,6-O-(3-ketobutylidene)-4-nitrophenyl-β-d-cellopentaoside. Graphical Abstract Principle of the CELLG5 assay
Keywords: endo-1,4-β-Glucanase; Cellulase; Assay; Colorimetric; CELLG5; Automation

Rapid screening of waterborne pathogens using phage-mediated separation coupled with real-time PCR detection by Ziyuan Wang; Danhui Wang; Amanda J. Kinchla; David A. Sela; Sam R. Nugen (4169-4178).
Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a ubiquitous pathogen which can be linked to foodborne outbreaks worldwide. In addition to the significant illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths resulting from the outbreaks, there can be severe economic consequences to farmers, food manufacturers, and municipalities. A rapid detection assay which can validate sanitation and water quality would prove beneficial to these situations. Here, we report a novel bacteriophage-mediated detection of E. coli O157:H7 which utilizes the specific recognition between phages and their host cell as well as the natural lysis component of the infection cycle for DNA release. Carboxylic acid-functionalized magnetic beads were conjugated with bacteriophage and used to separate and concentrate E. coli O157:H7. The effects of bead incubation time, salinity, pH, and temperature on the bio-magnetic separation were investigated and compared to an antibody-based counterpart. The conditions of 0.01 M PBS, pH 7.0, and 20 min of reaction at 37 °C were found to be optimal. The capture efficiency of the coupled assay was approximately 20 % higher than that of antibody-based separation under extreme conditions. The resulting bead-phage-bacteria complexes were quantitatively detected by real-time PCR (qPCR). Our results demonstrated that the use of phage-based magnetic separation coupled with qPCR improved the sensitivity of detection by 2 orders of magnitude compared that without phage-based pre-concentration. Specificity and selectivity of the assay system was evaluated, and no cross-reactivity occurred when Salmonella typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were tested. The total assay time was less than 2 h.
Keywords: Escherichia coli O157:H7; Bacteriophage; Magnetic separation; Real-time PCR; Water testing; E. coli

Development of a multi-class steroid hormone screening method using Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) by Ashley S. P. Boggs; John A. Bowden; Thomas M. Galligan; Louis J. Guillette Jr.; John R. Kucklick (4179-4190).
Monitoring complex endocrine pathways is often limited by indirect measurement or measurement of a single hormone class per analysis. There is a burgeoning need to develop specific direct-detection methods capable of providing simultaneous measurement of biologically relevant concentrations of multiple classes of hormones (estrogens, androgens, progestogens, and corticosteroids). The objectives of this study were to develop a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method for multi-class steroid hormone detection using biologically relevant concentrations, then test limits of detection (LOD) in a high-background matrix by spiking charcoal-stripped fetal bovine serum (FBS) extract. Accuracy was tested with National Institute of Standards and Technology Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) with certified concentrations of cortisol, testosterone, and progesterone. 11-Deoxycorticosterone, 11-deoxycortisol, 17-hydroxypregnenolone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, adrenosterone, androstenedione, cortisol, corticosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, dihydrotestosterone, estradiol, estriol, estrone, equilin, pregnenolone, progesterone, and testosterone were also measured using isotopic dilution. Dansyl chloride (DC) derivatization was investigated maintaining the same method to improve and expedite estrogen analysis. Biologically relevant LODs were determined for 15 hormones. DC derivatization improved estrogen response two- to eight-fold, and improved chromatographic separation. All measurements had an accuracy ≤14 % difference from certified values (not accounting for uncertainty) and relative standard deviation ≤14 %. This method chromatographically separated and quantified biologically relevant concentrations of four hormone classes using highly specific fragmentation patterns and measured certified values of hormones that were previously split into three separate chromatographic methods.
Keywords: Steroid hormones; Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry; Estrogens; Androgens; Progestogens; Corticosteroids