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Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2006;20(7):1127-34.

Phosphopeptide quantitation using amine-reactive isobaric tagging reagents and tandem mass spectrometry: application to proteins isolated by gel electrophoresis.

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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M., Denmark.


Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis is widely used for protein separation and it is frequently the final step in protein purification in biochemistry and proteomics. Using a commercially available amine-reactive isobaric tagging reagent (iTRAQ) and mass spectrometry we obtained reproducible, quantitative data from peptides derived by tryptic in-gel digestion of proteins and phosphoproteins. The protocol combines optimized reaction conditions, miniaturized peptide handling techniques and tandem mass spectrometry to quantify low- to sub-picomole amounts of (phospho)proteins that were isolated by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Immobilized metal affinity chromatography (FeIII-IMAC) was efficient for removal of excess reagents and for enrichment of derivatized phosphopeptides prior to matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) analysis. Phosphopeptide abundance was determined by liquid chromatography/tandem mass (LC/MS/MS) using either MALDI time-of-flight/time-of-flight (TOF/TOF) MS/MS or electrospray ionization quadrupole time-of-flight (ESI-QTOF) MS/MS instruments. Chemically labeled isobaric phosphopeptides, differing only by the position of the phosphate group, were distinguished and characterized by LC/MS/MS based on their LC elution profile and distinct MS/MS spectra. We expect this quantitative mass spectrometry method to be suitable for systematic, comparative analysis of molecular variants of proteins isolated by gel electrophoresis.

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