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Anal Chem. 2004 Jan 1;76(1):86-97.

Synthesis/degradation ratio mass spectrometry for measuring relative dynamic protein turnover.

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Mass Spectrometry Research Group, Research Triangle Institute, 3040 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709-2194, USA.


One of the major unanswered questions in quantitative proteomics is that of dynamic protein turnover in the cell. Here we present a new approach to quantitative proteomics that measures the relative dynamic turnover of proteins in cellular systems. In this approach, termed synthesis/degradation ratio mass spectrometry, stable isotope labeling is employed to calculate a relative synthesis/degradation ratio that reflects the relative rate at which 13C is incorporated into individual proteins in the cell. This synthesis/degradation ratio calculation is based on a Poisson distribution model that is designed to support high-throughput analysis. Protein separation and analysis is accomplished by utilizing one-dimensional SDS-PAGE gel electrophoresis followed by cutting the gel into a series of bands for in-gel digestion. The resulting peptide mixtures are analyzed via solid-phase MALDI LC-MS and LC-MS/MS using a tandem time-of-flight mass spectrometer. A portion of the soluble protein fraction from an E. coli K-12 strain was analyzed with synthesis/degradation ratios varying from approximately 0.1 to 4.4 for a variety of different proteins. Unlike other quantitative techniques, synthesis/degradation ratio mass spectrometry requires only a single cell culture to obtain useful biological information about the processes occurring inside a cell. This technique is highly amenable to shotgun proteomics-based approaches and thus should allow relative turnover measurements for whole proteomes in the future.

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