Clickable and High-Sensitivity Metal-Containing Tags for Mass Cytometry

Allo, B., Lou, X., Bouzekri, A.. et al.

Mass cytometry is a highly multiplexed single-cell analysis platform that uses metal-tagged reagents to identify multiple cellular biomarkers. The current metal-tagged reagent preparation employs thiol-maleimide chemistry to covalently couple maleimide-functionalized metal-chelating polymers (MCPs) with antibodies (Abs), a process that requires partial reduction of the Ab to form reactive thiol groups. However, some classes of Abs (for example, IgM) as well as biomolecules lacking cysteine residues have been challenging to label using this method. This inherent limitation led us to develop a new conjugation strategy for labeling a wide range of biomolecules and affinity reagents. In this report, we present a metal tagging approach using a new class of azide- or transcyclooctene-terminated MCPs with copper(I)-free strain-promoted alkyne-azide cycloaddition or tetrazine-alkene click chemistry reactions, in which biomolecules with -NH2 functional groups are selectively activated with a dibenzocyclooctyne or tetrazine moiety, respectively. This approach enabled us to generate highly sensitive and specific metal-tagged IgGs, IgMs, small peptides, and lectins for applications in immunophenotyping and glycobiology. We also created dual-tagged reagents for simultaneous detection of markers by immunofluorescence, mass cytometry, and imaging mass cytometry using a two-step conjugation process. The Helios mass cytometer was used to test the functionality of reagents on suspension human leukemia cell lines and primary cells. The dual-tagged Abs, metal-tagged lectins, and phalloidin staining reagent were used to visualize target proteins and glycans on adherent cell lines and frozen/FFPE tissue sections using the Hyperion Imaging System. In some instances, reagents produced by click conjugation showed superior sensitivity and specificity compared to those of reagents produced by thiol-maleimide chemistry. In general, the click chemistry-based conjugation with new MCPs could be instrumental in developing a wide range of highly sensitive metal-containing reagents for proteomics and glycomics applications.


Allo, B., Lou, X., Bouzekri, A.. et al. "Clickable and High-Sensitivity Metal-Containing Tags for Mass Cytometry" Bioconjugate Chemistry (2018): 2,028–38