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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2012 Dec;11(12):1670-81. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M112.021766. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Biochemical fractionation and stable isotope dilution liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry for targeted and microdomain-specific protein quantification in human postmortem brain tissue.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Synaptic architecture and its adaptive changes require numerous molecular events that are both highly ordered and complex. A majority of neuropsychiatric illnesses are complex trait disorders, in which multiple etiologic factors converge at the synapse via many signaling pathways. Investigating the protein composition of synaptic microdomains from human patient brain tissues will yield valuable insights into the interactions of risk genes in many disorders. These types of studies in postmortem tissues have been limited by the lack of proper study paradigms. Thus, it is necessary not only to develop strategies to quantify protein and post-translational modifications at the synapse, but also to rigorously validate them for use in postmortem human brain tissues. In this study we describe the development of a liquid chromatography-selected reaction monitoring method, using a stable isotope-labeled neuronal proteome standard prepared from the brain tissue of a stable isotope-labeled mouse, for the multiplexed quantification of target synaptic proteins in mammalian samples. Additionally, we report the use of this method to validate a biochemical approach for the preparation of synaptic microdomain enrichments from human postmortem prefrontal cortex. Our data demonstrate that a targeted mass spectrometry approach with a true neuronal proteome standard facilitates accurate and precise quantification of over 100 synaptic proteins in mammalian samples, with the potential to quantify over 1000 proteins. Using this method, we found that protein enrichments in subcellular fractions prepared from human postmortem brain tissue were strikingly similar to those prepared from fresh mouse brain tissue. These findings demonstrate that biochemical fractionation methods paired with targeted proteomic strategies can be used in human brain tissues, with important implications for the study of neuropsychiatric disease.

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