Label-Free Quantitative Phosphoproteomics for Algae

Methods Mol Biol. 2020;2139:197-211. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0528-8_15.


The unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a model photosynthetic organism for the study of microalgal processes. Along with genomic and transcriptomic studies, proteomic analysis of Chlamydomonas has led to an increased understanding of its metabolic signaling as well as a growing interest in the elucidation of its phosphorylation networks. To this end, mass spectrometry-based proteomics has made great strides in large-scale protein quantitation as well as analysis of posttranslational modifications (PTMs) in a high-throughput manner. An accurate quantification of dynamic PTMs, such as phosphorylation, requires high reproducibility and sensitivity due to the substoichiometric levels of modified peptides, which can make depth of coverage challenging. Here we present a method using TiO2-based phosphopeptide enrichment paired with label-free LC-MS/MS for phosphoproteome quantification. Three technical replicate samples in Chlamydomonas were processed and analyzed using this approach, quantifying a total of 1775 phosphoproteins with a total of 3595 phosphosites. With a median CV of 21% across quantified phosphopeptides, implementation of this method for differential studies provides highly reproducible analysis of phosphorylation events. While the culturing and extraction methods used are specific to facilitate coverage in algal species, this approach is widely applicable and can easily extend beyond algae to other photosynthetic organisms with minor modifications.

Keywords: Algae; Chlamydomonas reinhardtii; Label-free; Mass spectrometry; Phosphorylation; Quantitative proteomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Phosphopeptides / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation / physiology
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Titanium / chemistry


  • Phosphopeptides
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Titanium