Dysfunction of protein turnover is a feature of many human diseases, and proteins are substrates in important biological processes. Currently, no method exists for the measurement of global protein turnover (i.e., proteome dynamics) that can be applied in humans. Here we describe the use of metabolic labeling with deuterium ((2)H) from (2)H(2)O and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis of mass isotopomer patterns to measure protein turnover. We show that the positions available for (2)H label incorporation in vivo can be calculated using peptide sequence. The isotopic incorporation values calculated by combinatorial analysis of mass isotopomer patterns in peptides correlate very closely with values established for individual amino acids. Inpatient and outpatient heavy water labeling protocols resulted in (2)H label incorporation sufficient for reproducible quantitation in humans. Replacement rates were similar for peptides deriving from the same protein. Using a kinetic model to account for the time course of each individual's (2)H(2)O enrichment curves, dynamics of approximately 100 proteins with half-lives ranging from 0.4 to 40 days were measured using 8 μl of plasma. The measured rates were consistent with literature values. This method can be used to measure in vivo proteome homeostasis in humans in disease and during therapeutic interventions.
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