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J Proteome Res. 2008 Oct;7(10):4256-65. doi: 10.1021/pr800182b. Epub 2008 Sep 17.

Three-layer sandwich gel electrophoresis: a method of salt removal and protein concentration in proteome analysis.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0055, USA.


Sample preparation plays a critical role in successful proteomic applications. Features of electrospray mass spectrometry impose limits on the types of buffers, detergents and other reagents that can be used in sample preparation. Unfortunately, many of these mass spectrometry incompatible reagents significantly enhance protein recoveries from complex matrices. This problem prompted our search for a better cleanup protocol. Our data suggest that the Three-layer Sandwich Gel Electrophoresis (TSGE) protocol can solve this problem and provide near quantitative recovery of extremely low concentration proteins from harsh solutions, a feature not available from other cleanup protocols. The hallmark of the TSGE protocol is the combination of the properties of agarose gels (that serve as the matrix to immobilize the proteins of interest) with low- and high-percentage polyacrylamide gels (that serve as the concentration and sealing layers, respectively). By electrophoretically driving the proteins of interest from the agarose matrix into the concentration layer, the TSGE protocol simultaneously concentrates the sample in the concentration layer and provides an environment amenable to downstream buffer exchange and proteolytic digestion. In combination with 2D-LC-MS/MS, the TSGE protocol was evaluated in the analysis of a whole cell extract from the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Comparison of our experimental proteomic results with in silico predictions from gene data indicated that TSGE did not bias the protein identification.

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