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Anal Chem. 2010 Aug 1;82(15):6549-58. doi: 10.1021/ac100890k.

Peptide labeling with isobaric tags yields higher identification rates using iTRAQ 4-plex compared to TMT 6-plex and iTRAQ 8-plex on LTQ Orbitrap.

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Christian Doppler Laboratory for Proteome Analysis, University of Vienna, Austria.


Peptide labeling with isobaric tags has become a popular technique in quantitative shotgun proteomics. Using two different samples viz. a protein mixture and HeLa extracts, we show that three commercially available isobaric tags differ with regard to peptide identification rates: The number of identified proteins and peptides was largest with iTRAQ 4-plex, followed by TMT 6-plex, and smallest with iTRAQ 8-plex. In all experiments, we employed a previously described method where two scans were acquired for each precursor on an LTQ Orbitrap: A CID scan under standard settings for identification, and a HCD scan for quantification. The observed differences in identification rates were similar when data was searched with either Mascot or Sequest. We consider these findings to be the result of a combination of several factors, most notably prominent ions in CID spectra as a consequence of loss of fragments of the label tag from precursor ions. These fragment ions cannot be explained by current search engines and were observed to have a negative impact on peptide scores.

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