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J Proteomics. 2012 Jan 4;75(3):1067-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2011.10.021. Epub 2011 Oct 31.

Fibrinogen alpha chain O-glycopeptides as possible markers of urinary tract infection.

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Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry Unit, Department of Parasitology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common bacterial infection leading to substantial morbidity and considerable health care expenditures across all ages. Here we present an exploratory UPLC-MS study of human urine in the context of febrile, complicated urinary tract infection aimed to reveal and identify possible markers of a host response on infection. A UPLC-MS based workflow, taking advantage of Ultra High Resolution (UHR) Qq-ToF-MS, and multivariate data handling were applied to a carefully selected group of 39 subjects with culture-confirmed febrile Escherichia coli UTI. Using a combination of unsupervised and supervised multivariate modeling we have pinpointed a number of peptides specific for UTI. An unequivocal structural identification of these peptides, as O-glycosylated fragments of the human fibrinogen alpha 1 chain, required MS2 and MS3 experiments on two different MS platforms: ESI-UHR-Qq-ToF and ESI-ion trap, a blast search and, finally, confirmation was achieved by matching experimental tandem mass spectra with those of custom synthesized candidate-peptides. In conclusion, exploiting non-targeted UPLC-MS based approach for the investigation of UTI related changes in urine, we have identified and structurally characterized unique O-glycopeptides, which are, to our knowledge, the first demonstration of O-glycosylation of human fibrinogen alpha 1-chain.

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