Absolute quantitation of protein posttranslational modification isoform

Zhu Yang*, Ning Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Mass spectrometry has been widely applied in characterization and quantification of proteins from complex biological samples. Because the numbers of absolute amounts of proteins are needed in construction of mathematical models for molecular systems of various biological phenotypes and phenomena, a number of quantitative proteomic methods have been adopted to measure absolute quantities of proteins using mass spectrometry. The liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) coupled with internal peptide standards, i.e., the stable isotope-coded peptide dilution series, which was originated from the field of analytical chemistry, becomes a widely applied method in absolute quantitative proteomics research. This approach provides more and more absolute protein quantitation results of high confidence. As quantitative study of posttranslational modification (PTM) that modulates the biological activity of proteins is crucial for biological science and each isoform may contribute a unique biological function, degradation, and/or subcellular location, the absolute quantitation of protein PTM isoforms has become more relevant to its biological significance. In order to obtain the absolute cellular amount of a PTM isoform of a protein accurately, impacts of protein fractionation, protein enrichment, and proteolytic digestion yield should be taken into consideration and those effects before differentially stable isotope-coded PTM peptide standards are spiked into sample peptides have to be corrected. Assisted with stable isotope-labeled peptide standards, the absolute quantitation of isoforms of posttranslationally modified protein (AQUIP) method takes all these factors into account and determines the absolute amount of a protein PTM isoform from the absolute amount of the protein of interest and the PTM occupancy at the site of the protein. The absolute amount of the protein of interest is inferred by quantifying both the absolute amounts of a few PTM-site-independent peptides in the total cellular protein and their peptide yields. The PTM occupancy determination is achieved by measuring the absolute amounts of both PTM and non-PTM peptides from the highly purified protein sample expressed in transgenic organisms or directly isolated from an organism using affinity purification. The absolute amount of each PTM isoform in the total cellular protein extract is finally calculated from these two variables. Following this approach, the ion intensities given by mass spectrometers are used to calculated the peptide amounts, from which the amounts of protein isoforms are then deduced. In this chapter, we describe the principles underlying the experimental design and procedures used in AQUIP method. This quantitation method basically employs stable isotope-labeled peptide standards and affinity purification from a tagged recombinant protein of interest. Other quantitation strategies and purification techniques related to this method are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlant Phosphoproteomics
Subtitle of host publicationMethods and Protocols
EditorsWaltraud X. Schulze
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherHumana Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781493926480
ISBN (Print)9781493926473, 9781493949373
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

User-Defined Keywords

  • Absolute quantitation
  • Internal standard (IS)
  • Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)
  • Posttranslational modification (PTM)
  • Quantitative proteomics
  • Stable isotope labeling


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