Indexed on: 06 Sep '13Published on: 06 Sep '13Published in: Analytical Chemistry
Long-gradient separations coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (MS) were recently demonstrated to provide a deep proteome coverage for global proteomics; however, such long-gradient separations have not been explored for targeted proteomics. Herein, we investigate the potential performance of the long-gradient separations coupled with selected reaction monitoring (LG-SRM) for targeted protein quantification. Direct comparison of LG-SRM (5 h gradient) and conventional liquid chromatography (LC)-SRM (45 min gradient) showed that the long-gradient separations significantly reduced background interference levels and provided an 8- to 100-fold improvement in limit of quantification (LOQ) for target proteins in human female serum. On the basis of at least one surrogate peptide per protein, an LOQ of 10 ng/mL was achieved for the two spiked proteins in nondepleted human serum. The LG-SRM detection of seven out of eight endogenous plasma proteins expressed at ng/mL or subng/mL levels in clinical patient sera was also demonstrated. A correlation coefficient of >0.99 was observed for the results of LG-SRM and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) measurements for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in selected patient sera. Further enhancement of LG-SRM sensitivity was achieved by applying front-end IgY14 immunoaffinity depletion. Besides improved sensitivity, LG-SRM potentially offers much higher multiplexing capacity than conventional LC-SRM due to an increase in average peak widths (~3-fold) for a 300 min gradient compared to a 45 min gradient. Therefore, LG-SRM holds great potential for bridging the gap between global and targeted proteomics due to its advantages in both sensitivity and multiplexing capacity.