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Anal Chem. 2015 Dec 1;87(23):11840-6. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b03344. Epub 2015 Nov 12.

Multijunction Capillary Isoelectric Focusing Device Combined with Online Membrane-Assisted Buffer Exchanger Enables Isoelectric Point Fractionation of Intact Human Plasma Proteins for Biomarker Discovery.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet , Scheeles väg 2, SE-17177 Stockholm, Sweden.
Biomotif AB , SE-18212 Stockholm, Sweden.


Prefractionation of proteins is often employed to improve analysis specificity in proteomics. Prefractionation based on the isoelectric point (pI) is particularly attractive because pI is a well-defined parameter and it is orthogonal to hydrophobicity on which reversed-phase chromatography is based. However, direct capillary electrophoresis of blood proteins is challenging due to its high content of salts and charged small molecules. Here, we couple an online desalinator device to our multijunction capillary isoelectric focusing (MJ-CIEF) instrument and perform direct isoelectric separation of human blood plasma. In a proof-of-principle experiment, pooled samples of patients with progressive mild cognitive impairment and corresponding healthy controls were investigated. Injection of 3 μL of plasma containing over 100 μg of proteins into the desalinator was followed by pI fractionation with MJ-CIEF in less than 1 h. Shotgun proteomics of 12 collected fractions from each of the 5 replicates of pooled samples resulted in the identification and accurate quantification (median CV between the replicates is <4%) of nearly 365 protein groups from 4030 unique peptides (with <1% FDR for both peptides and proteins). The obtained results include several proteins previously reported as AD markers. The isoelectric point of each quantified protein was calculated using a set of 7 synthetic peptides spiked into the samples. Several proteins with a significant pI shift between their isoforms in the patient and control samples were identified. The presented method is straightforward, robust, and scalable; therefore, it can be used in both biological and clinical applications.

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