Isoelectric point-based fractionation by HiRIEF coupled to LC-MS allows for in-depth quantitative analysis of the phosphoproteome

Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 3;7(1):4513. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-04798-z.


Protein phosphorylation is involved in the regulation of most eukaryotic cells functions and mass spectrometry-based analysis has made major contributions to our understanding of this regulation. However, low abundance of phosphorylated species presents a major challenge in achieving comprehensive phosphoproteome coverage and robust quantification. In this study, we developed a workflow employing titanium dioxide phospho-enrichment coupled with isobaric labeling by Tandem Mass Tags (TMT) and high-resolution isoelectric focusing (HiRIEF) fractionation to perform in-depth quantitative phosphoproteomics starting with a low sample quantity. To benchmark the workflow, we analyzed HeLa cells upon pervanadate treatment or cell cycle arrest in mitosis. Analyzing 300 µg of peptides per sample, we identified 22,712 phosphorylation sites, of which 19,075 were localized with high confidence and 1,203 are phosphorylated tyrosine residues, representing 6.3% of all detected phospho-sites. HiRIEF fractions with the most acidic isoelectric points are enriched in multiply phosphorylated peptides, which represent 18% of all the phospho-peptides detected in the pH range 2.5-3.7. Cross-referencing with the PhosphoSitePlus database reveals 1,264 phosphorylation sites that have not been previously reported and kinase association analysis suggests that a subset of these may be functional during the mitotic phase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Humans
  • Isoelectric Focusing
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Phosphopeptides / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins* / metabolism
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Protein Interaction Maps
  • Proteome*
  • Proteomics* / methods
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Phosphopeptides
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Proteome