Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Cole, Richard B.

Second Advisor

Rees, Bernard B.

Third Advisor

Dugas, Tammy R.

Fourth Advisor

Cai, Yang


Mass spectrometry coupled with liquid chromatography and gel electrophoresis enables separation and detection of components in a complex mixture. During the last two decades, its applications were dramatically extended and remarkable progress has been made in many fields, in particular, environmental and biological analyses. This dissertation focuses on identification and characterization of biologically active compounds and comparative analysis of protein expression changes. The first two projects (Chapters 2 and 3) focus on the application of LC/MS approach to profile the bioactivated intermediates of 4, 4'-methylenedianiline (DAPM) from rat vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and bile. In our study, several DAPM metabolites were detected and characterized in detail by liquid chromatography-electrospray tandem mass spectrometry. The structural assignments of these metabolites from VSMCs and rat bile significantly improve our understanding of DAPM biotransformations and toxicity. The third project described in Chapter 4 focuses on using electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (ES-MS/MS) and theoretical calculation (GAUSSIAN 03 program) to investigate the unusual methyl radical loss and consecutive fragment ions that dominate the low-energy collision induced dissociation (CID) mass spectra of prodiginine compounds. Structures of the fragment ions are proposed and explanations are given to rationalize the observed competition between the formation of even-electron ions and radical ions. Our study shows that the lower apparent threshold associated with methyl radical loss points to a lower kinetic barrier. In Chapter 5, hypoxia-induced changes of zebrafish skeletal muscle were studied using two-dimensional difference in-gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) in vivo after 48 h in hypoxia vs. normoxia. The results showed that proteins involved in mitochondrial oxidative metabolism are down-regulated, whereas glycolytic enzymes are up-regulated to compensate for the loss of ATP synthesis in aerobic metabolism. The up-regulation of two spots identified as hemoglobin variants was also observed. These protein expression changes are consistent with a hypoxic response that enhances anaerobic metabolism or O2 transport to tissues.


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