The human embryonic stem cell proteome revealed by multidimensional fractionation followed by tandem mass spectrometry

Proteomics. 2015 Jan;15(2-3):554-66. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201400132. Epub 2014 Dec 17.


Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have received considerable attention due to their therapeutic potential and usefulness in understanding early development and cell fate commitment. In order to appreciate the unique properties of these pluripotent, self-renewing cells, we have performed an in-depth multidimensional fractionation followed by LC-MS/MS analysis of the hESCs harvested from defined media to elucidate expressed, phosphorylated, O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) modified, and secreted proteins. From the triplicate analysis, we were able to assign more than 3000 proteins with less than 1% false-discovery rate. This analysis also allowed us to identify nearly 500 phosphorylation sites and 68 sites of O-GlcNAc modification with the same high confidence. Investigation of the phosphorylation sites allowed us to deduce the set of kinases that are likely active in these cells. We also identified more than 100 secreted proteins of hESCs that likely play a role in extracellular matrix formation and remodeling, as well as autocrine signaling for self-renewal and maintenance of the undifferentiated state. Finally, by performing in-depth analysis in triplicate, spectral counts were obtained for these proteins and posttranslationally modified peptides, which will allow us to perform relative quantitative analysis between these cells and any derived cell type in the future.

Keywords: Cell biology; Embryonic stem cells; O-GlcNAc; Phosphorylation; Secretome; Shotgun proteomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / analysis
  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism
  • Cell Fractionation
  • Cell Line
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / chemistry
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Proteome / metabolism
  • Proteomics
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Proteome
  • Acetylglucosamine