A collaborative learning module for teaching protein mass spectrometry has been developed to overcome common obstacles to incorporating the modern topic of biological mass spectrometry into the undergraduate chemistry curriculum. Protein mass spectrometry data is provided to eliminate the need for expensive instrumentation, and an instructor’s manual gives necessary details for those unfamiliar with the topic. The first section provides background information on proteins and the field of proteomics. The second section describes the use of electrospray ionization to determine the molecular weight of a protein. The third section shows how to identify a protein using peptide mass mapping, and the fourth section describes tandem MS experiments for de novo peptide sequencing. Each section also includes lessons on the analytical instrumentation used to make mass measurements including electrospray ionization, matrix assisted laser desorption ionization, and time-of-flight mass spectrometry. The module includes preclass reading assignments and small group problem solving exercises to be used during class sessions. The module was implemented over several semesters at both a small liberal arts college and a large research university. Assessment data from both institutions suggest that the module is effective in helping students to learn about mass-spectrometry-based proteomics. This freely available resource will assist instructors in introducing these topics to the undergraduate curriculum.
Journal of Chemical Education