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J Proteomics. 2014 Sep 23;109:16-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2014.06.017. Epub 2014 Jun 28.

Decreasing the amount of trypsin in in-gel digestion leads to diminished chemical noise and improved protein identifications.

Author information

1
Institute of Analytical Chemistry and Synthetic and Functional Biomolecules Center, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.
2
Institute of Analytical Chemistry and Synthetic and Functional Biomolecules Center, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China. Electronic address: xiaoyun.liu@pku.edu.cn.

Abstract

Pre-fractionation by gel electrophoresis is often combined with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) for large-scale profiling of complex protein samples. An essential component of this widely applied proteomic platform is in-gel protein digestion. In nearly two decades of practicing this approach, an extremely high level of trypsin has been utilized due to the consideration of slow enzyme diffusion into the gel matrix. Here we report that trypsin autolysis products contribute to the bulk of chemical noise in in-gel digestion and remarkably we found evidence that the amount of trypsin can be slashed by an order of magnitude with comparable digestion performance. By revising perhaps the most critical element of this decade-old digestion protocol, the proteomics community relying on gel separation prior to LC-MS analysis will benefit instantly from much lowered cost due to enzyme expenditure. More importantly, substantially reduced chemical noise (i.e., trypsin self-cleavage products) as a result of less enzyme usage translates into more protein identifications when limited amounts of samples are the interest of interrogation.

BIOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE:

In-gel digestion is one of the most widely used methods in proteomics. An exceedingly high level of trypsin has been utilized due to the consideration of slow enzyme diffusion into the gel matrix. This requirement has been faithfully kept in nearly two decades of practicing this approach. Here we report that trypsin concentration can be slashed by at least an order of magnitude while still providing comparable digestion performance. Thus the proteomics community relying on gel separation prior to LC-MS analysis will benefit instantly from much lowered enzyme cost. More importantly, substantially reduced chemical noise (i.e., trypsin autolysis products) due to less enzyme usage translates into ~30% more protein identifications when limited amounts of protein samples are analyzed.

KEYWORDS:

Chemical noise; In-gel digestion; Mass spectrometry; Proteomics; Trypsin autolysis

PMID:
24984109
DOI:
10.1016/j.jprot.2014.06.017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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