Author(s): Arnott D, Henzel WJ, Stults JT
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Abstract In the search for novel nuclear binding proteins, two bands from a sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) gel were analyzed and each was found to contain a number of proteins that subsequently were identified by tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) on a quadrupole ion trap instrument. The bands were digested with trypsin in situ on a polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) membrane following electroblot transfer. Analysis of a 2.5\% aliquot of each peptide mixture by matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization-mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) followed by an initial database search with the peptide masses failed to identify the proteins. The peptides were separated by reversed-phase capillary high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in anticipation of subsequent Edman degradation, but mass analysis of the chromatographic fractions by MALDI-MS revealed multiple, coeluting peptides that precluded this approach. Selected fractions were analyzed by capillary HPLC-electrospray ionization-ion trap mass spectrometry. Tandem mass spectrometry provided significant fragmentation from which full or partial sequence was deduced for a number of peptides. Two stages of fragmentation (MS3) were used in one case to determine additional sequence. Database searches, each using a single peptide mass plus partial sequence, identified four proteins from a single electrophoretic band at 45 kDa, and four proteins from a second band at 60 kDa. Many of these proteins were derived from human keratin. The protein identifications were corroborated by the presence of multiple matching peptide masses in the MALDI-MS spectra. In addition, a novel sequence, not found in protein or DNA databases, was determined by interpretation of the MS/MS data. These results demonstrate the power of the quadrupole ion trap for the identification of multiple proteins in a mixture, and for de novo determination of peptide sequence. Reanalysis of the fragmentation data with a modified database searching algorithm showed that the same sets of proteins were identified from a limited number of fragment ion masses, in the absence of mass spectral interpretation or amino acid sequence. The implications for protein identification solely from fragment ion masses are discussed, including advantages for low signal levels, for a reduction of the necessary interpretation expertise, and for increased speed.
This article was published in Electrophoresis
and referenced in Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology