An in-capillary derivatization of amino acids and peptides with 4-fluoro-7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazole (NBD-F) was developed for their subsequent capillary electrophoretic analysis with laser-induced fluorescence detection (lambda (ex)=488 nm). The in-capillary derivatization was achieved in zone-passing mode by introducing successive plugs of sample and NBD-F into a fused silica capillary previously equilibrated with an alkaline borate buffer. To prevent NBD-F hydrolysis and to achieve a reliable derivatization, NBD-F was prepared daily in absolute ethanol and a plug of absolute ethanol was introduced between the sample and NBD-F reagent plugs. Various parameters influencing the derivatization efficiency were investigated and the optimum conditions were as follows: background electrolyte (BGE), 20 mM borate buffer (pH 8.8); introduction time, 4 s for sample and 2 s for NBD-F; molar ratio of NBD-F/sample, above 215; temperature, 45 degrees C for amino acids and 35 degrees C for peptides; applied voltage, +15 kV. The validation of the in-capillary derivatization method under optimal conditions showed a good linearity between the heights of the derivative peaks and the concentrations of the amino acids. The intra-day relative standard deviations of the migration times and the peak heights were less than 1.3% and 4.6%, respectively. The efficient derivatization and separation of a mixture of valine, alanine, glutamic acid and aspartic acid were achieved using this technique. Peptides such as buccaline and beta-protein fragment 1-42 could also be derivatized using the developed in-capillary derivatization procedure.
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