SprayQc: A Real-Time LC-MS/MS Quality Monitoring System To Maximize Uptime Using Off the Shelf Components.
ABSTRACT With the advent of high-throughput mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics, the magnitude and complexity of the performed experiments has increased dramatically. Likewise, investments in chromatographic and MS instrumentation are a large proportion of the budget of proteomics laboratories. Guarding measurement quality and maximizing uptime of the LC-MS/MS systems therefore requires constant care despite automated workflows. We describe a real-time surveillance system, called SprayQc, that continuously monitors the status of the peripheral equipment to ensure that operational parameters are within an acceptable range. SprayQc is composed of multiple plug-in software components that use computer vision to analyze electrospray conditions, monitor the chromatographic device for stable backpressure, interact with a column oven to control pressure by temperature, and ensure that the mass spectrometer is still acquiring data. Action is taken when a failure condition has been detected, such as stopping the column oven and the LC flow, as well as automatically notifying the appropriate operator. Additionally, all defined metrics can be recorded synchronized on retention time with the MS acquisition file, allowing for later inspection and providing valuable information for optimization. SprayQc has been extensively tested in our laboratory, supports third-party plug-in development, and is freely available for download from http://sourceforge.org/projects/sprayqc .