Neuromodulators and neurotransmitters play important roles in neural network development. The quantitative changes of these signaling molecules often reflect their regulatory roles in physiological processes. Currently, several commercial tags (e.g., iTRAQ and TMT) have been widely used in proteomics. With reduced cost and higher labeling efficiency, we employed a set of custom-developed N, N-dimethyl leucine (DiLeu) 4-plex isobaric tandem mass tags as an attractive alternative for the relative quantitation of neuropeptides in brain tissue of American lobster Homarus americanus at multiple developmental stages. A general workflow for isobaric labeling of neuropeptides followed by LC-MS/MS analysis has been developed, including optimized sample handling procedures. Overall, we were able to quantify 18 trace-amount neuropeptides from 6 different families using a single adult brain as a control. The quantitation results indicated that the expressions of different neuropeptide families had significant changes over distinct developmental stages. Additionally, our data revealed intriguing elevated expression of neuropeptides in the early juvenile development stage. The methodology presented here advanced the workflow of DiLeu as an alternative labeling approach and the application of DiLeu-based quantitative peptidomics, which can be extended to areas beyond neuroscience.
Keywords: ESI-QTOF; N,N-Dimethyl leucine; crustacean development; neuropeptides; quantitation.