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Anal Chem. 2006 Jul 15;78(14):4811-9.

Nanopore-based proteolytic reactor for sensitive and comprehensive proteomic analyses.

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Department of Chemistry, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, P. R. China.


Various silica-based microreactors have been designed that use enzyme immobilization to address technical concerns in proteolysis including inefficient and incomplete protein digestion. Most of current designs for proteolytic reactors can improve either protease stability or proteolysis efficiency of individual protein(s). However, the desired features such as rapid digestion, larger sequence coverage, and high sensitivity have not been achieved by a single microreactor design for broad range proteins with diverse physical properties. Here, unlike conventional enzyme immobilization strategies, we describe a novel proteolytic nanoreactor based on the unique three-dimensional nanopore structure of our newly synthesized mesoporous silica (MPS), FDU-12, which integrates substrate enrichment, "reagent-free" protein denaturation, and efficient proteolytic digestion. In our design, protein substrates were first captured by MPS nanopore structure and were concentrated from the solution. Following the pH change and applying trypsin, the denaturation and concurrent proteolysis of broad-range proteins were efficiently achieved. In minutes, many more sample peptides from the in-nanopore digestion of protein mixtures were detected by mass spectrometry, resulting in the identifications of a broad range of diverse proteins with high sequence coverage. The unique features of FDU-12 nanostructure that allow rapid, complete proteolysis and resulting enhanced sequence coverage of individual proteins were investigated by using Raman spectroscopy and comparative studies with respect to other MPSs.

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