Influence of the digestion technique, protease, and missed cleavage peptides in protein quantitation

J Proteome Res. 2014 Sep 5;13(9):3979-86. doi: 10.1021/pr500294d. Epub 2014 Jul 28.


Quantitative determination of absolute and relative protein amounts is an essential requirement for most current bottom-up proteomics applications, but protein quantitation estimates are affected by several sources of variability such as sample preparation, mass spectrometric acquisition, and data analysis. Among them, sample digestion has attracted much attention from the proteomics community, as protein quantitation by bottom-up proteomics relies on the efficiency and reproducibility of protein enzymatic digestion, with the presence of missed cleavages, nonspecific cleavages, or even the use of different proteases having been postulated as important sources of variation in protein quantitation. Here we evaluated both in-solution and filter-aided digestion protocols and assessed their influence in the estimation of protein abundances using five E. coli mixtures with known amounts of spiked proteins. We observed that replicates of trypsin specificity digestion protocols are highly reproducible in terms of peptide quantitation, with digestion technique and the chosen proteolytic enzyme being the major sources of variability in peptide quantitation. Finally, we also evaluated the result of including peptides with missed cleavages in protein quantitation and observed no significant differences in precision, accuracy, specificity, and sensitivity compared with the use of fully tryptic peptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Peptide Fragments* / analysis
  • Peptide Fragments* / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments* / metabolism
  • Peptide Hydrolases / chemistry*
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Proteins* / analysis
  • Proteins* / chemistry
  • Proteins* / metabolism
  • Proteomics / methods*


  • Peptide Fragments
  • Proteins
  • Peptide Hydrolases