Spring Technical Presentation

Tuesday, April 18th

High throughput single cell mass spectrometry:

from new measurement tools to new chemical insights

Jonathan V. Sweedler

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana IL 61801 USA

 Social Beginning at 6:30pm with the talk beginning at 7:00pm

In the postgenomic era, one expects the suite of chemical players in a brain region to be known and their functions uncovered. However, many cell-to-cell signaling molecules remain poorly characterized and for those that are known, their localization and dynamics are oftentimes unknown. We have created a high throughput approach for assaying thousands of individual brain cells. The cells of interest are scattered across a microscope slide, their exact positions determined and lastly, mass spectra are acquired at the cell positions. Single cell assays allow differences in the metabolome and peptidome from supposedly homogeneous populations of cells to be explored. By obtaining information from tens of thousands of individual cells, rare cells are found and unusual neurochemicals are discovered. As the method allows follow-up immunohistochemistry and capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry on selected cells, a wealth of single cell chemical information on cell populations becomes possible. Several applications of single cell mass spectrometry are highlighted including the discovery of unusual metabolites to characterizing the neuropeptides and hormones in single cells. Our overarching goal is to uncover the complex chemical mosaic of the brain and pinpoint key cellular players in a range of physiological and pathological processes.




Jonathan V. Sweedler

Department of Chemistry

University of Illinois, Urbana IL 61801 USA

217 244 7359






Jonathan Sweedler received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Arizona in 1988, spent several years at Stanford before moving to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991 where he has been ever since. At Illinois, he is currently the James R. Eiszner Family Endowed Chair in Chemistry, Director of the School of Chemical Science, and affiliated with the Institute of Genomic Biology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. His research interests focus on developing new approaches for assaying small volume samples, and in applying these methods to study novel interactions between cells. These analytical approaches include capillary separations, micro and nanofluidics, miniaturized separations, mass spectrometry and NMR. He has used these tools to characterize small molecules and peptides in a range of animal models across the metazoan and in samples as small as individual cells and cellular domains. Recent work includes the development of a series of high throughput mass spectrometry approaches for characterizing tens of thousands of individual cells. Sweedler, with large international teams of biologists and technologists, has performed comprehensive interrogation of the genome, transcriptome and peptidome in a range of animal models to uncover signaling peptides and pathways involved in wide range of functions and behaviors.

Sweedler has published more than 400 manuscripts and presented 480 invited lectures. He has received numerous awards including the ACS Award in Analytical Chemistry and the ANACHEM Award. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief for Analytical Chemistry.


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