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Anal Chem. 2005 Dec 1;77(23):7646-53.

Measurement of the isotope enrichment of stable isotope-labeled proteins using high-resolution mass spectra of peptides.

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Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, 98195, USA.


Stable isotope-enriched molecules are used as internal standards and as tracers of in vivo substrate metabolism. The accurate conversion of measured ratios in the mass spectrometer to mole ratios is complicated because a polyatomic molecule containing enriched atoms will result in a combinatorial distribution of isotopomers depending on the enrichment and number of "labeled" atoms. This effect could potentially cause a large error in the mole ratio measurement depending on which isotope peak or peaks were used to determine the ratio. We report a computational method that predicts isotope distributions over a range of enrichments and compares the predicted distributions to experimental peptide isotope distributions obtained by Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry. Our approach is accurate with measured enrichments within 1.5% of expected isotope distributions. The method is also precise with 4.9, 2.0, and 0.8% relative standard deviations for peptides containing 59, 79, and 99 atom % excess (15)N, respectively. The approach is automated making isotope enrichment calculations possible for thousands of peptides in a single muLC-FTICR-MS experiment.

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