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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, September 1990; 2(3)

PNL Mass Spectrometry Workshop

A workshop sponsored by the DOE Office of Health and Environmental Research (OHER) was held April 4-5 at the Battelle Seattle Conference Center to examine the potential role of mass spectrometry in the Human Genome Project. Richard D. Smith and Charles G. Edmonds of Pacific Northwest Laboratory (PNL) were organizers and cochairmen. The workshop included experts in DNA sequencing technologies and conventional mass spectrometric methods, as well as researchers who are developing new mass spectrometric techniques appropriate for direct study of large biomolecules.

The relative merits, risks, and uncertainties of three mass spectrometric approaches to DNA sequencing were discussed:

  1. Detection of stable, isotopically labeled DNA sequencing mixtures fractionated using gel electrophoresis;
  2. Direct analysis of unfractionated sequencing mixtures using desorption ionization techniques, including electrospray ionization (ESI), where the measured mass of constituents serves to identify and order the base sequence (separation by gel electrophoresis is replaced by fluorescent or radioactivity detection); and
  3. A novel approach in which a single highly charged molecular ion of a large DNA segment produced by ESI is rapidly sequenced in an ion cyclotron resonance ion trap.

Potential sequencing speeds associated with these various approaches range from 10(4) to 10(7) bases per day.

These and other recent developments in mass spectrometry provide new levels of selectivity and sensitivity and, in particular, new methods of ionization appropriate for large biopolymers.


Reported by Gerald Goldstein, Acting Director
Physical and Technological Research Division, DOE

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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v2n3).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.