Characterization of the human urinary proteome: a method for high-resolution display of urinary proteins on two-dimensional electrophoresis gels with a yield of nearly 1400 distinct protein spots

Proteomics. 2004 Apr;4(4):1159-74. doi: 10.1002/pmic.200300661.


The abundance profile of the human urinary proteome is known to change as a result of diseases or drug toxicities, particularly of those affecting the kidney and the urogenital tract. A consequence of such insults is the ability to identify proteins in urine, which may be useful as quantitative biomarkers. To succeed in discovering them, reproducible urine sample preparation methods and good protein resolution in two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) gels for parallel semiquantitative protein measurements are desirable. Here, we describe a protein fractionation strategy enriching proteins of molecular masses (M(r)) lower than 30 kDa in a fraction separate from larger proteins. The fraction containing proteins with M(r)s higher than 30 kDa was subsequently subjected to immunoaffinity subtraction chromatography removing most of the highly abundant albumin and immunoglobulin G. Following 2-DE display, superior protein spot resolution was observed. Subsequent high-throughput mass spectrometry analysis of ca. 1400 distinct spots using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight peptide mass fingerprinting and liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry lead to the successful identification of 30% of the proteins. As expected from high levels of post-translational modifications in most urinary proteins and the presence of proteolytic products, ca. 420 identified spots collapsed into 150 unique protein annotations. Only a third of the proteins identified in this study are described as classical plasma proteins in circulation, which are known to be relatively abundant in urine despite their retention to a large extent in the glomerular blood filtration process. As a proof of principle that our urinary proteome display effort holds promise for biomarker discovery, proteins isolated from the urine of a renal cell carcinoma patient were profiled prior to and after nephrectomy. Particularly, the decrease in abundance of the kininogen 2-DE gel spot train in urine after surgery was striking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Albumins / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / metabolism*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulins / urine
  • Kidney Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Nephrectomy
  • Peptide Mapping*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Urinary Tract / metabolism*


  • Albumins
  • Biomarkers
  • Immunoglobulins