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Anal Chem. 2005 Mar 15;77(6):1572-9.

Blending protein separation and peptide analysis through real-time proteolytic digestion.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1.


Typical liquid- or gel-based protein separations require enzymatic digestion as an important first step in generating protein identifications. Traditional protocols involve long-term proteolytic digestion of the separated protein, often leading to sample loss and reduced sensitivity. Previously, we presented a rapid method of proteolytic digestion that showed excellent digestion of resistant and low concentrations of protein without requiring reduction and alkylation. Here, we demonstrate on-line, real-time tryptic digestion in conjunction with reversed-phase protein separation. The studies were aimed at optimizing pH and ionic strength and the size of the digestion element, to produce maximal protein digestion with minimal effects on chromatographic integrity. Upon establishing optimal conditions, the digestion element was attached downstream from a capillary C4 reversed-phase column. A four-protein mixture was processed through the combined system, and the resulting peptides were analyzed on-line by electrospray mass spectrometry. Extracted ion chromatograms for protein chromatography based on peptide elution were generated. These were shown to emulate ion chromatograms produced in a subsequent run without the digestion element, based on protein elution. The methodology will enable rapid and sensitive analysis of liquid-based protein separations using the power of bottom-up proteomics methodologies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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