Welcome to the Borgerding Lab
Mass spectrometry (MS) allows very selective measurements for organic and biological molecules, especially when combined with chromatography. The Borgerding lab develops tools and methods involving MS to measure a wide variety of compounds to support studies in biochemistry and environmental chemistry.
Many of Dr. Borgerding’s students use MS to do proteomics. In other words, they identify proteins present in biological samples using strategies that involve MS analysis and bioinformatics. These projects involve extracting and performing a crude isolation of the protein from a sample, using trypsin to digest the protein into smaller peptides, analyzing those peptides using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and comparing the results to theoretical possibilities gleaned from databases of know protein sequences. The figure below shows an example for a small protein isolated from a virus. The amino acid sequence of the protein, and peptides that should form from trypsin digestion are highlighted. These sequences are available from databases like NISC or Uniprot, and bioinformatics programs can predict the peptides that should form, as well as the masses of their fragment ions that form during MS analysis. Comparing this library with actual spectral results using statistical models can confirm the presence of the protein. (see the figure below)
We also use MS to selectively and sensitively analyze compounds from environmental samples. Environmental samples are challenging because they contain compounds of interest at very low concentrations, and also high concentrations of other compounds that can interfere. We develop methods and tools to take advantage of the power of MS to overcome these limitations.