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Anal Chem. 1997 Oct 1;69(19):3995-4001.

A strategy for rapid, high-confidence protein identification.

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Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


A procedure is described for rapid, high-confidence identification of proteins using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization tandem ion trap mass spectrometry in conjunction with a genome database searching strategy. The procedure involves excision of copper-stained bands or spots from electrophoretic gels, in-gel trypsin digestion of the proteins, single-stage mass spectrometric analysis of the resultant mixture of tryptic peptides, followed by tandem ion trap mass spectrometric analysis of selected individual peptides, and database searching of the relevant genomic database using the program PepFrag. The scheme provides sensitive, real-time protein identification as well as facile identification of modifications. A single operator can unambiguously identify 5-10 proteins/day from an organism whose genome is known at a level of > 0.5 pmol of protein loaded on a gel. The utility of the technique was demonstrated by the identification and characterization of a band from a human HTLV-I preparation and 11 different proteins from a yeast RNA polymerase II C-terminal repeat domain-affinity preparation. The technology has great potential for postgenome biological science, where it promises to facilitate the dissection and anatomy of macromolecular assemblages, the definition of disease state markers, and the investigation of protein targets in biological processes such as the cell cycle and signal transduction.

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