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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2014 Apr;13(4):1008-19. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M113.032631. Epub 2014 Jan 31.

Comprehensive absolute quantification of the cytosolic proteome of Bacillus subtilis by data independent, parallel fragmentation in liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS(E)).

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Institute for Microbiology, Ernst Moritz Arndt University Greifswald, D-17487 Greifswald, Germany;


In the growing field of systems biology, the knowledge of protein concentrations is highly required to truly understand metabolic and adaptational networks within the cells. Therefore we established a workflow relying on long chromatographic separation and mass spectrometric analysis by data independent, parallel fragmentation of all precursor ions at the same time (LC/MS(E)). By prevention of discrimination of co-eluting low and high abundant peptides a high average sequence coverage of 40% could be achieved, resulting in identification of almost half of the predicted cytosolic proteome of the Gram-positive model organism Bacillus subtilis (>1,050 proteins). Absolute quantification was achieved by correlation of average MS signal intensities of the three most intense peptides of a protein to the signal intensity of a spiked standard protein digest. Comparative analysis with heavily labeled peptides (AQUA approach) showed the use of only one standard digest is sufficient for global quantification. The quantification results covered almost four orders of magnitude, ranging roughly from 10 to 150,000 copies per cell. To prove this method for its biological relevance selected physiological aspects of B. subtilis cells grown under conditions requiring either amino acid synthesis or alternatively amino acid degradation were analyzed. This allowed both in particular the validation of the adjustment of protein levels by known regulatory events and in general a perspective of new insights into bacterial physiology. Within new findings the analysis of "protein costs" of cellular processes is extremely important. Such a comprehensive and detailed characterization of cellular protein concentrations based on data independent, parallel fragmentation in liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS(E)) data has been performed for the first time and should pave the way for future comprehensive quantitative characterization of microorganisms as physiological entities.

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