Phase transfer surfactant-aided trypsin digestion for membrane proteome analysis

J Proteome Res. 2008 Feb;7(2):731-40. doi: 10.1021/pr700658q.


We have developed a new protocol for digesting hydrophobic proteins using trypsin with the aid of phase-transfer surfactants (PTS), such as sodium deoxycholate (SDC). SDC increases the solubility of hydrophobic proteins, enhances the activity of trypsin, and improves the accessibility to trypsin of proteins denatured during the extraction process. After digestion, SDC was successfully removed from the acidified solution containing tryptic peptides by adding a water-immiscible organic solvent, into which SDC was predominantly transferred, while the digested peptides remained in the aqueous phase. Compared with a protocol using an acid-labile surfactant, this PTS protocol increased the number of identified proteins and the recovery of hydrophobic peptides in the analysis of 400 ng of a membrane-enriched fraction of Escherichia coli. Application of the PTS protocol to 9.0 microg of a membrane-enriched pellet from human cervical cancer HeLa cells resulted in identification of a total of 1450 proteins, of which 764 (53%) were membrane proteins, by two-dimensional strong cation exchange (SCX)-C18 LC-MSMS with 5 SCX fractions. The distribution of the number of transmembrane domains in proteins identified in this study was in agreement with that in the IPI human database, suggesting that the PTS protocol can provide unbiased digestion of the membrane proteome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / analysis
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phase Transition
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Proteome / analysis
  • Proteome / chemistry
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Surface-Active Agents*
  • Trypsin*


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Proteome
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Trypsin