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Anal Biochem. 2011 May 1;412(1):47-55. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2011.01.021. Epub 2011 Jan 20.

Measuring protein synthesis using metabolic ²H labeling, high-resolution mass spectrometry, and an algorithm.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


We recently developed a method for estimating protein dynamics in vivo with heavy water ((2)H(2)O) using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) [16], and we confirmed that (2)H labeling of many hepatic free amino acids rapidly equilibrated with body water. Although this is a reliable method, it required modest sample purification and necessitated the determination of tissue-specific amino acid labeling. Another approach for quantifying protein kinetics is to measure the (2)H enrichments of body water (precursor) and protein-bound amino acid or proteolytic peptide (product) and to estimate how many copies of deuterium are incorporated into a product. In the current study, we used nanospray linear trap Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (LTQ FT-ICR MS) to simultaneously measure the isotopic enrichment of peptides and protein-bound amino acids. A mathematical algorithm was developed to aid the data processing. The most notable improvement centers on the fact that the precursor/product labeling ratio can be obtained by measuring the labeling of water and a protein (or peptide) of interest, thereby minimizing the need to measure the amino acid labeling. As a proof of principle, we demonstrate that this approach can detect the effect of nutritional status on albumin synthesis in rats given (2)H(2)O.

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