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Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 20;9(1):8836. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45237-5.

A sensitive and simple targeted proteomics approach to quantify transcription factor and membrane proteins of the unfolded protein response pathway in glioblastoma cells.

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Leibniz-Institut für Analytische Wissenschaften-ISAS-e.V., 44227, Dortmund, Germany.
Translational Control Group, Biochemistry I, University of Regensburg, 93053, Regensburg, Germany.
Institute of Neuropathology, Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, 40225, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Medizinische Fakultät, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, 44801, Germany.
College of Physical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Old Aberdeen, AB24 3UE, UK.
Schaller Research Group, University of Heidelberg and DKFZ, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.
Molecular Mechanisms of Tumor Invasion, DKFZ, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.
Leibniz-Institut für Analytische Wissenschaften-ISAS-e.V., 44227, Dortmund, Germany.


Many cellular events are driven by changes in protein expression, measurable by mass spectrometry or antibody-based assays. However, using conventional technology, the analysis of transcription factor or membrane receptor expression is often limited by an insufficient sensitivity and specificity. To overcome this limitation, we have developed a high-resolution targeted proteomics strategy, which allows quantification down to the lower attomol range in a straightforward way without any prior enrichment or fractionation approaches. The method applies isotope-labeled peptide standards for quantification of the protein of interest. As proof of principle, we applied the improved workflow to proteins of the unfolded protein response (UPR), a signaling pathway of great clinical importance, and could for the first time detect and quantify all major UPR receptors, transducers and effectors that are not readily detectable via antibody-based-, SRM- or conventional PRM assays. As transcription and translation is central to the regulation of UPR, quantification and determination of protein copy numbers in the cell is important for our understanding of the signaling process as well as how pharmacologic modulation of these pathways impacts on the signaling. These questions can be answered using our newly established workflow as exemplified in an experiment using UPR perturbation in a glioblastoma cell lines.

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