Tandem mass tags: a novel quantification strategy for comparative analysis of complex protein mixtures by MS/MS

Anal Chem. 2003 Apr 15;75(8):1895-904. doi: 10.1021/ac0262560.


A novel MS/MS-based analysis strategy using isotopomer labels, referred to as "tandem mass tags" (TMTs), for the accurate quantification of peptides and proteins is described. The new tags are designed to ensure that identical peptides labeled with different TMTs exactly comigrate in all separations. The tags require novel methods of quantification analysis using tandem mass spectrometry. The new tags and analysis methods allow peptides from different samples to be identified by their relative abundance with greater ease and accuracy than other methods. The new TMTs permit simultaneous determination of both the identity and relative abundances of peptide pairs using a collision induced dissociation (CID)-based analysis method. Relative abundance measurements made in the MS/MS mode using the new tags are accurate and sensitive. Compared to MS-mode measurements, a very high signal-to-noise ratio is achieved with MS/MS based detection. The new tags should be applicable to a wide variety of peptide isolation methods.

MeSH terms

  • Isotopes
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Molecular Probes
  • Peptides / analysis
  • Peptides / isolation & purification
  • Proteins / analysis*


  • Isotopes
  • Molecular Probes
  • Peptides
  • Proteins