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J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2007 Apr 15;849(1-2):223-30. Epub 2006 Dec 5.

A bifunctional monolithic column for combined protein preconcentration and digestion for high throughput proteomics research.

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Department of Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4630, USA.


Enzymatic digestion of proteins is a key step in protein identification by mass spectrometry (MS). Traditional solution-based protein digestion methods require long incubation times and are limitations for high throughput proteomics research. Recently, solid phase digestion (e.g. trypsin immobilization on solid supports) has become a useful strategy to accelerate the speed of protein digestion and eliminate autodigestion by immobilizing and isolating the enzyme moieties on solid supports. Monolithic media is an attractive support for immobilization of enzymes due to its unique properties that include fast mass transfer, stability in most solvents, and versatility of functional groups on the surfaces of monoliths. We prepared immobilized trypsin monolithic capillaries for on-column protein digestion, analyzed the digested peptides through LC/FTICR tandem MS, and compared peptide mass fingerprinting by MALDI-TOF-MS. To further improve the digestion efficiency for low abundance proteins, we introduced C4 functional groups onto the monolith surfaces to combine on-column protein enrichment and digestion. Compared with immobilized trypsin monolithic capillaries without C4, the immobilized trypsin-C4 monolith showed improved digestion efficiency. A mechanism for increased efficiency from the combination of sample enrichment and on-column digestion is also proposed in this paper. Moreover, we investigated the effects of organic solvent on digestion and detection by comparing the observed digested peptide sequences. Our data demonstrated that all columns showed good tolerance to organic solvents and maintained reproducible enzymatic activity for at least 30 days.

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