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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2007 Feb;18(2):226-33. Epub 2006 Oct 25.

Quantitative analysis of complex peptide mixtures using FTMS and differential mass spectrometry.

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Molecular Profiling Proteomics, Merck Research Laboratories, Merck and Co. Inc., Rahway, New Jersey 07065, USA.


Label-free LC-MS profiling is a powerful quantitative proteomic method to study relative peptide abundances between two or more biological samples. Here we demonstrate the use of a previously described comparative LC-MS method, differential mass spectrometry (dMS), to analyze high-resolution Fourier transform mass spectrometry (FTMS) data for detection and quantification of known peptide differences between two sets of complex mixtures. Six standard peptides were spiked into a processed plasma background at fixed ratios from 1.25:1 to 4:1 to make two sets of samples. The resulting mixtures were analyzed by microcapillary LC-FTMS and dMS. dMS successfully identified five out of the six peptides as statistically significant differences (p <or= 0.005). In this experiment, the smallest fold change reliably detected by our method was 1.5:1, and the errors of estimated ratios of concentrations were less than 20% for peptides spiked at 1.5:1 to 4:1. We conclude that LC-FTMS coupled with dMS is a useful label-free quantitative MS method that can be used to detect subtle yet statistically significant peptide differences in complex protein mixtures, including plasma samples.

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