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J Proteome Res. 2008 Feb;7(2):687-97. Epub 2007 Nov 23.

Highly robust, automated, and sensitive online TiO2-based phosphoproteomics applied to study endogenous phosphorylation in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry, Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research and Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Sorbonnelaan 16, 3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Reversible protein phosphorylation ranks among the most important post-translational modifications, and elucidation of phosphorylation sites is essential to understand the regulation of key cellular processes such as signal transduction. Enrichment of phosphorylated peptides is a prerequisite for successful analysis due to their low stoichiometry, heterogeneity, and low abundance. Enrichment is often performed manually, which is inherently labor-intensive and a major hindrance in large-scale analyses. Automation of the enrichment method would vastly improve reproducibility and thereby facilitate 'high-throughput' phosphoproteomics research. Here, we describe a robust and automated online TiO 2-based two-dimensional chromatographic approach to selectively enrich phosphorylated peptides from digests of complete cellular lysates. We demonstrate method enhancement for both adsorption and desorption of phosphorylated peptides resulting in lower limits of detection. Phosphorylated peptides from a mere 500 attomole tryptic digest of a protein mixture were easily detected. With the combination of strong cation exchange chromatography with the online TiO 2 enrichment, 2152 phosphopeptides were enriched from 250 microg of protein originating for the cell lysate of Drosophila melanogaster S2 cells. This is a 4-fold improvement when compared to an enrichment strategy based solely on strong cation exchange/LC-MS. Phosphopeptide enrichment methods are intrinsically biased against relatively basic phosphopeptides. Analysis of the p I distributions of the enriched/detected phosphopeptides showed that the p I profile resembles that of a total Drosophila protein digest, revealing that the current described online procedure does not discriminate against either more acidic or basic phosphopeptides. However, careful comparison of our new and existing phosphopeptide enrichment techniques also reveal that, like many enrichment techniques, we are still far from comprehensive phosphoproteomics analyses, and we describe several factors that still require to be addressed. Still, as the online approach allows the complementary measurements of phosphopeptides and their nonphosphorylated counterparts in subsequent analyses, this method is well-suited for automated quantitative phosphoproteomics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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