Mass spectrometry-based targeted quantitative proteomics: achieving sensitive and reproducible detection of proteins

Proteomics. 2012 Apr;12(8):1093-110. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201100387.


Traditional shotgun proteomics used to detect a mixture of hundreds to thousands of proteins through mass spectrometric analysis, has been the standard approach in research to profile protein content in a biological sample which could lead to the discovery of new (and all) protein candidates with diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic values. In practice, this approach requires significant resources and time, and does not necessarily represent the goal of the researcher who would rather study a subset of such discovered proteins (including their variations or posttranslational modifications) under different biological conditions. In this context, targeted proteomics is playing an increasingly important role in the accurate measurement of protein targets in biological samples in the hope of elucidating the molecular mechanism of cellular function via the understanding of intricate protein networks and pathways. One such (targeted) approach, selected reaction monitoring (or multiple reaction monitoring) mass spectrometry (MRM-MS), offers the capability of measuring multiple proteins with higher sensitivity and throughput than shotgun proteomics. Developing and validating MRM-MS-based assays, however, is an extensive and iterative process, requiring a coordinated and collaborative effort by the scientific community through the sharing of publicly accessible data and datasets, bioinformatic tools, standard operating procedures, and well characterized reagents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Databases, Protein
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / instrumentation
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Mass Spectrometry / standards
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Proteomics / instrumentation
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Proteomics / standards
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Software*


  • Biomarkers
  • Proteins