Phosphopeptide analysis by on-line immobilized metal-ion affinity chromatography-capillary electrophoresis-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry

J Chromatogr A. 1999 Aug 20;853(1-2):225-35. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9673(99)00481-1.


The analysis of large phosphoproteins by mass spectrometry is a particular challenge, in many cases, because of the small proportion of phosphopeptides in the presence of a large number of non-phosphorylated peptides. In addition, phosphopeptides are generally available in dilute solutions. Thus, methods to specifically identify phosphopeptides at low concentrations are important. In this work, on-line Fe(III) immobilized metal-ion affinity chromatography (IMAC)-CE-electrospray ionization MS was developed and applied to sub-pmol analysis of phosphopeptides. Phosphopeptides bind Fe(III) with high selectivity. The IMAC resin is packed directly at the head of the CE column. After the phosphopeptides are bonded to the resin and washed, they are eluted at high pH and separated by CE. This method has several advantages: (1) selective retention and pre-concentration of phosphopeptides on an Fe(III)-IMAC resin; (2) a pre-wash of the sample to remove salts and buffers that are not suited for CE separation or ESI operation; (3) facile fabrication with common tools and chemicals (less than 10 min); (4) adaptation to commercial CE instruments without any modifications. The applications of IMAC-CE-MS are demonstrated by the analysis of phosphopeptide mixtures and a phosphoprotein digest.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Chromatography, Affinity / methods*
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary / methods*
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Metals / chemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Online Systems
  • Phosphopeptides / analysis*


  • Metals
  • Phosphopeptides