Increased Sensitivity of Mass Spectrometry by Alkaline Two-Dimensional Liquid Chromatography: Deep Cover of the Human Proteome in Gene-Centric Mode

J Proteome Res. 2018 Dec 7;17(12):4258-4266. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.8b00754. Epub 2018 Nov 19.


Currently, great interest is paid to the identification of "missing" proteins that have not been detected in any biological material at the protein level (PE1). In this paper, using the Universal Proteomic Standard sets 1 and 2 (UPS1 and UPS2, respectively) as an example, we characterized mass spectrometric approaches from the point of view of sensitivity (Sn), specificity (Sp), and accuracy (Ac). The aim of the paper was to show the utility of a mass spectra approach for protein detection. This sets consists of 48 high-purity human proteins without single aminoacid polymorphism (SAP) or post translational modification (PTM). The UPS1 set consists of the same 48 proteins at 5 pmols each, and in UPS2, proteins were grouped into 5 groups in accordance with their molar concentration, ranging from 10-11 to 10-6 M. Single peptides from the 92% and 96% of all sets of proteins could be detected in a pure solution of UPS2 and UPS1, respectively, by selected reaction monitoring with stable isotope-labeled standards (SRM-SIS). We also found that, in the presence of a biological matrix such as Escherichia coli extract or human blood plasma (HBP), SRM-SIS makes it possible to detect from 63% to 79% of proteins in the UPS2 set (sensitivity) with the highest specificity (∼100%) and an accuracy of 80% by increasing the sensitivity of shotgun and selected reaction monitoring combined with a stable-isotope-labeled peptide standard (SRM-SIS technology) by fractionating samples using reverse-phase liquid chromatography under alkaline conditions (2D-LC_alk). It is shown that this technique of sample fractionation allows the SRM-SIS to detect 98% of the single peptides from the proteins present in the pure solution of UPS2 (47 out of 48 proteins). When the extracts of E. coli or Pichia pastoris are added as biological matrixes to the UPS2, 46, and 45 out of 48 proteins (∼95%) can be detected, respectively, using the SRM-SIS combined with 2D-LC_alk. The combination of the 2D-LC_alk SRM-SIS and shotgun technologies allows us to increase the sensitivity up to 100% in the case of the proteins of the UPS2 set. The usage of that technology can be a solution for identifying the so-called "missing" proteins and, eventually, creating the deep proteome of a particular chromosome of tissue or organs. Experimental data have been deposited in the PeptideAtlas SRM Experiment Library with the dataset identifier PASS01192 and the PRIDE repository with the dataset identifier PXD007643.

Keywords: SRM-SIS; accuracy; alkaline 2D-LC fractionation; proteome; selected reaction monitoring; sensitivity; shotgun; specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Chromatography, Reverse-Phase / methods
  • Chromosomes, Human / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / standards*
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteogenomics / methods*
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Proteins
  • Proteome