Natural flanking sequences for peptides included in a quantification concatamer internal standard

Anal Chem. 2015 Jan 20;87(2):1097-102. doi: 10.1021/ac503697j. Epub 2014 Dec 31.


Quantification by targeted proteomics has largely depended on mass spectrometry and isotope-labeled internal standards. In addition to traditionally used recombinant proteins or synthetic peptides, concatenated peptides (QconCATs) were introduced as a conceptually new source of internal standard. In the present study, we focused on assessing the length of natural flanking sequences, which surround each peptide included in QconCAT and provide for identical rates of analyte and standard digestion by trypsin. We have expressed, purified, and characterized a set of seven (15)N-labeled QconCATs that cover seven tryptic peptides from human clusterin with a length of natural flanking sequences ranging from none (+0) to six amino acid residues (+6) for each tryptic peptide. Individual QconCATs were mixed with recombinant human clusterin at a 1:1 molar ratio and digested, and the actual ratios for each combination of peptide/flanking sequence were measured with a multiple reaction monitoring assay. Data analysis suggested that natural flanking sequences shorter than +6 residues can cause a quantitative error because the random appearance of other amino acid residues in close proximity to trypsin cleavage sites has unpredictable consequences for the digestion rates of QconCATs.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Clusterin / analysis*
  • Clusterin / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Fragments / analysis
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry*
  • Peptide Fragments / standards*
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Reference Standards
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Trypsin / metabolism*


  • CLU protein, human
  • Clusterin
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Trypsin