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1.  Nic1 Inactivation Enables Stable Isotope Labeling with 13C615N4-Arginine in Schizosaccharomyces pombe* 
Stable Isotope Labeling by Amino Acids (SILAC) is a commonly used method in quantitative proteomics. Because of compatibility with trypsin digestion, arginine and lysine are the most widely used amino acids for SILAC labeling. We observed that Schizosaccharomyces pombe (fission yeast) cannot be labeled with a specific form of arginine, 13C615N4-arginine (Arg-10), which limits the exploitation of SILAC technology in this model organism. We hypothesized that in the fission yeast the guanidinium group of 13C615N4-arginine is catabolized by arginase and urease activity to 15N1-labeled ammonia that is used as a precursor for general amino acid biosynthesis. We show that disruption of Ni2+-dependent urease activity, through deletion of the sole Ni2+ transporter Nic1, blocks this recycling in ammonium-supplemented EMMG medium to enable 13C615N4-arginine labeling for SILAC strategies in S. pombe. Finally, we employed Arg-10 in a triple-SILAC experiment to perform quantitative comparison of G1 + S, M, and G2 cell cycle phases in S. pombe.
PMCID: PMC4288259  PMID: 25368411
2.  Accurate Protein Complex Retrieval by Affinity Enrichment Mass Spectrometry (AE-MS) Rather than Affinity Purification Mass Spectrometry (AP-MS)* 
Protein–protein interactions are fundamental to the understanding of biological processes. Affinity purification coupled to mass spectrometry (AP-MS) is one of the most promising methods for their investigation. Previously, complexes were purified as much as possible, frequently followed by identification of individual gel bands. However, todays mass spectrometers are highly sensitive, and powerful quantitative proteomics strategies are available to distinguish true interactors from background binders. Here we describe a high performance affinity enrichment-mass spectrometry method for investigating protein–protein interactions, in which no attempt at purifying complexes to homogeneity is made. Instead, we developed analysis methods that take advantage of specific enrichment of interactors in the context of a large amount of unspecific background binders. We perform single-step affinity enrichment of endogenously expressed GFP-tagged proteins and their interactors in budding yeast, followed by single-run, intensity-based label-free quantitative LC-MS/MS analysis. Each pull-down contains around 2000 background binders, which are reinterpreted from troubling contaminants to crucial elements in a novel data analysis strategy. First the background serves for accurate normalization. Second, interacting proteins are not identified by comparison to a single untagged control strain, but instead to the other tagged strains. Third, potential interactors are further validated by their intensity profiles across all samples. We demonstrate the power of our AE-MS method using several well-known and challenging yeast complexes of various abundances. AE-MS is not only highly efficient and robust, but also cost effective, broadly applicable, and can be performed in any laboratory with access to high-resolution mass spectrometers.
PMCID: PMC4288248  PMID: 25363814
3.  The Functional Landscape of Hsp27 Reveals New Cellular Processes such as DNA Repair and Alternative Splicing and Proposes Novel Anticancer Targets* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(12):3585-3601.
Previously, we identified the stress-induced chaperone, Hsp27, as highly overexpressed in castration-resistant prostate cancer and developed an Hsp27 inhibitor (OGX-427) currently tested in phase I/II clinical trials as a chemosensitizing agent in different cancers. To better understand the Hsp27 poorly-defined cytoprotective functions in cancers and increase the OGX-427 pharmacological safety, we established the Hsp27-protein interaction network using a yeast two-hybrid approach and identified 226 interaction partners. As an example, we showed that targeting Hsp27 interaction with TCTP, a partner protein identified in our screen increases therapy sensitivity, opening a new promising field of research for therapeutic approaches that could decrease or abolish toxicity for normal cells. Results of an in-depth bioinformatics network analysis allying the Hsp27 interaction map into the human interactome underlined the multifunctional character of this protein. We identified interactions of Hsp27 with proteins involved in eight well known functions previously related to Hsp27 and uncovered 17 potential new ones, such as DNA repair and RNA splicing. Validation of Hsp27 involvement in both processes in human prostate cancer cells supports our system biology-predicted functions and provides new insights into Hsp27 roles in cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC4256507  PMID: 25277244
4.  Quantitative Phosphoproteomics of Cytotoxic T Cells to Reveal Protein Kinase D 2 Regulated Networks* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(12):3544-3557.
The focus of the present study was to characterize the phosphoproteome of cytotoxic T cells and to explore the role of the serine threonine kinase PKD2 (Protein Kinase D2) in the phosphorylation networks of this key lymphocyte population. We used Stable Isotope Labeling of Amino acids in Culture (SILAC) combined with phosphopeptide enrichment and quantitative mass-spectrometry to determine the impact of PKD2 loss on the cytotoxic T cells phosphoproteome. We identified 15,871 phosphorylations on 3505 proteins in cytotoxic T cells. 450 phosphosites on 281 proteins were down-regulated and 300 phosphosites on 196 proteins were up-regulated in PKD2 null cytotoxic T cells. These data give valuable new insights about the protein phosphorylation networks operational in effector T cells and reveal that PKD2 regulates directly and indirectly about 5% of the cytotoxic T-cell phosphoproteome. PKD2 candidate substrates identified in this study include proteins involved in two distinct biological functions: regulation of protein sorting and intracellular vesicle trafficking, and control of chromatin structure, transcription, and translation. In other cell types, PKD substrates include class II histone deacetylases such as HDAC7 and actin regulatory proteins such as Slingshot. The current data show these are not PKD substrates in primary T cells revealing that the functional role of PKD isoforms is different in different cell lineages.
PMCID: PMC4256504  PMID: 25266776
5.  A “Proteomic Ruler” for Protein Copy Number and Concentration Estimation without Spike-in Standards* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(12):3497-3506.
Absolute protein quantification using mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics delivers protein concentrations or copy numbers per cell. Existing methodologies typically require a combination of isotope-labeled spike-in references, cell counting, and protein concentration measurements. Here we present a novel method that delivers similar quantitative results directly from deep eukaryotic proteome datasets without any additional experimental steps. We show that the MS signal of histones can be used as a “proteomic ruler” because it is proportional to the amount of DNA in the sample, which in turn depends on the number of cells. As a result, our proteomic ruler approach adds an absolute scale to the MS readout and allows estimation of the copy numbers of individual proteins per cell. We compare our protein quantifications with values derived via the use of stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture and protein epitope signature tags in a method that combines spike-in protein fragment standards with precise isotope label quantification. The proteomic ruler approach yields quantitative readouts that are in remarkably good agreement with results from the precision method. We attribute this surprising result to the fact that the proteomic ruler approach omits error-prone steps such as cell counting or protein concentration measurements. The proteomic ruler approach is readily applicable to any deep eukaryotic proteome dataset—even in retrospective analysis—and we demonstrate its usefulness with a series of mouse organ proteomes.
PMCID: PMC4256500  PMID: 25225357
6.  Copy Number Analysis of the Murine Platelet Proteome Spanning the Complete Abundance Range* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(12):3435-3445.
Knowledge of the identity and quantity of expressed proteins of a cell type is a prerequisite for a complete understanding of its molecular functions. Mass-spectrometry-based proteomics has allowed the identification of the entire protein complement of yeast and the close-to-complete set of proteins expressed in mammalian cell lines. Using recent technological advances, we here characterized the proteome of murine platelets, key actors in mediating hemostasis and thrombosis. We accurately measured the absolute protein concentrations of 13 platelet proteins using SILAC-protein epitope signature tags and used them as reference points to estimate the copy numbers of all proteins of the platelet proteome. To distinguish contaminants such as plasma or erythrocyte proteins from true platelet proteins, we monitored protein abundance profiles across multiple purification steps. In total, we absolutely quantified 4,400 platelet proteins, with estimated copy numbers ranging from less than 10 to about a million per cell. Stoichiometries derived from our data correspond well with previous studies. Our study provides a close-to-complete reference map of platelet proteins that will be useful to the community, for instance, for interpreting mouse models of human platelet diseases.
PMCID: PMC4256495  PMID: 25205226
7.  Deep Proteomic Evaluation of Primary and Cell Line Motoneuron Disease Models Delineates Major Differences in Neuronal Characteristics* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(12):3410-3420.
The fatal neurodegenerative disorders amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy are, respectively, the most common motoneuron disease and genetic cause of infant death. Various in vitro model systems have been established to investigate motoneuron disease mechanisms, in particular immortalized cell lines and primary neurons. Using quantitative mass-spectrometry-based proteomics, we compared the proteomes of primary motoneurons to motoneuron-like cell lines NSC-34 and N2a, as well as to non-neuronal control cells, at a depth of 10,000 proteins. We used this resource to evaluate the suitability of murine in vitro model systems for cell biological and biochemical analysis of motoneuron disease mechanisms. Individual protein and pathway analysis indicated substantial differences between motoneuron-like cell lines and primary motoneurons, especially for proteins involved in differentiation, cytoskeleton, and receptor signaling, whereas common metabolic pathways were more similar. The proteins associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also showed distinct differences between cell lines and primary motoneurons, providing a molecular basis for understanding fundamental alterations between cell lines and neurons with respect to neuronal pathways with relevance for disease mechanisms. Our study provides a proteomics resource for motoneuron research and presents a paradigm of how mass-spectrometry-based proteomics can be used to evaluate disease model systems.
PMCID: PMC4256493  PMID: 25193168
8.  The O-glycomap of Lubricin, a Novel Mucin Responsible for Joint Lubrication, Identified by Site-specific Glycopeptide Analysis* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(12):3396-3409.
The lubricative, heavily glycosylated mucin-like synovial glycoprotein lubricin has previously been observed to contain glycosylation changes related to rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Thus, a site-specific investigation of the glycosylation of lubricin was undertaken, in order to further understand the pathological mechanisms involved in these diseases. Lubricin contains an serine/threonine/proline (STP)-rich domain composed of imperfect tandem repeats (EPAPTTPK), the target for O-glycosylation. In this study, using a liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry approach, employing both collision-induced and electron-transfer dissociation fragmentation methods, we identified 185 O-glycopeptides within the STP-rich domain of human synovial lubricin. This showed that adjacent threonine residues within the central STP-rich region could be simultaneously and/or individually glycosylated. In addition to core 1 structures responsible for biolubrication, core 2 O-glycopeptides were also identified, indicating that lubricin glycosylation may have other roles. Investigation of the expression of polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase genes was carried out using cultured primary fibroblast-like synoviocytes, a cell type that expresses lubricin in vivo. This analysis showed high mRNA expression levels of the less understood polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 15 and 5 in addition to the ubiquitously expressed polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 1 and 2 genes. This suggests that there is a unique combination of transferase genes important for the O-glycosylation of lubricin. The site-specific glycopeptide analysis covered 82% of the protein sequence and showed that lubricin glycosylation displays both micro- and macroheterogeneity. The density of glycosylation was shown to be high: 168 sites of O-glycosylation, predominately sialylated, were identified. These glycosylation sites were focused in the central STP-rich region, giving the domain a negative charge. The more positively charged lysine and arginine residues in the N and C termini suggest that synovial lubricin exists as an amphoteric molecule. The identification of these unique properties of lubricin may provide insight into the important low-friction lubricating functions of lubricin during natural joint movement.
PMCID: PMC4256492  PMID: 25187573
9.  High-content Analysis of Antibody Phage-display Library Selection Outputs Identifies Tumor Selective Macropinocytosis-dependent Rapidly Internalizing Antibodies* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(12):3320-3331.
Many forms of antibody-based targeted therapeutics, including antibody drug conjugates, utilize the internalizing function of the targeting antibody to gain intracellular entry into tumor cells. Ideal antibodies for developing such therapeutics should be capable of both tumor-selective binding and efficient endocytosis. The macropinocytosis pathway is capable of both rapid and bulk endocytosis, and recent studies have demonstrated that it is selectively up-regulated by cancer cells. We hypothesize that receptor-dependent macropinocytosis can be achieved using tumor-targeting antibodies that internalize via the macropinocytosis pathway, improving potency and selectivity of the antibody-based targeted therapeutic. Although phage antibody display libraries have been utilized to find antibodies that bind and internalize to target cells, no methods have been described to screen for antibodies that internalize specifically via macropinocytosis. We hereby describe a novel screening strategy to identify phage antibodies that bind and rapidly enter tumor cells via macropinocytosis. We utilized an automated microscopic imaging-based, High Content Analysis platform to identify novel internalizing phage antibodies that colocalize with macropinocytic markers from antibody libraries that we have generated previously by laser capture microdissection-based selection, which are enriched for internalizing antibodies binding to tumor cells in situ residing in their tissue microenvironment (Ruan, W., Sassoon, A., An, F., Simko, J. P., and Liu, B. (2006) Identification of clinically significant tumor antigens by selecting phage antibody library on tumor cells in situ using laser capture microdissection. Mol. Cell. Proteomics. 5, 2364–2373). Full-length human IgG molecules derived from macropinocytosing phage antibodies retained the ability to internalize via macropinocytosis, validating our screening strategy. The target antigen for a cross-species binding antibody with a highly active macropinocytosis activity was identified as ephrin type-A receptor 2. Antibody-toxin conjugates created using this macropinocytosing IgG were capable of potent and receptor-dependent killing of a panel of EphA2-positive tumor cell lines in vitro. These studies identify novel methods to screen for and validate antibodies capable of receptor-dependent macropinocytosis, allowing further exploration of this highly efficient and tumor-selective internalization pathway for targeted therapy development.
PMCID: PMC4256486  PMID: 25149096
10.  DeMix Workflow for Efficient Identification of Cofragmented Peptides in High Resolution Data-dependent Tandem Mass Spectrometry*  
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(11):3211-3223.
Based on conventional data-dependent acquisition strategy of shotgun proteomics, we present a new workflow DeMix, which significantly increases the efficiency of peptide identification for in-depth shotgun analysis of complex proteomes. Capitalizing on the high resolution and mass accuracy of Orbitrap-based tandem mass spectrometry, we developed a simple deconvolution method of “cloning” chimeric tandem spectra for cofragmented peptides. Additional to a database search, a simple rescoring scheme utilizes mass accuracy and converts the unwanted cofragmenting events into a surprising advantage of multiplexing. With the combination of cloning and rescoring, we obtained on average nine peptide-spectrum matches per second on a Q-Exactive workbench, whereas the actual MS/MS acquisition rate was close to seven spectra per second. This efficiency boost to 1.24 identified peptides per MS/MS spectrum enabled analysis of over 5000 human proteins in single-dimensional LC-MS/MS shotgun experiments with an only two-hour gradient. These findings suggest a change in the dominant “one MS/MS spectrum - one peptide” paradigm for data acquisition and analysis in shotgun data-dependent proteomics. DeMix also demonstrated higher robustness than conventional approaches in terms of lower variation among the results of consecutive LC-MS/MS runs.
PMCID: PMC4223503  PMID: 25100859
11.  Sex-partitioning of the Plasmodium falciparum Stage V Gametocyte Proteome Provides Insight into falciparum-specific Cell Biology* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(10):2705-2724.
One of the critical gaps in malaria transmission biology and surveillance is our lack of knowledge about Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte biology, especially sexual dimorphic development and how sex ratios that may influence transmission from the human to the mosquito. Dissecting this process has been hampered by the lack of sex-specific protein markers for the circulating, mature stage V gametocytes. The current evidence suggests a high degree of conservation in gametocyte gene complement across Plasmodium, and therefore presumably for sex-specific genes as well. To better our understanding of gametocyte development and subsequent infectiousness to mosquitoes, we undertook a Systematic Subtractive Bioinformatic analysis (filtering) approach to identify sex-specific P. falciparum NF54 protein markers based on a comparison with the Dd2 strain, which is defective in producing males, and with syntenic male and female proteins from the reanalyzed and updated P. berghei (related rodent malaria parasite) gametocyte proteomes. This produced a short list of 174 male- and 258 female-enriched P. falciparum stage V proteins, some of which appear to be under strong diversifying selection, suggesting ongoing adaptation to mosquito vector species. We generated antibodies against three putative female-specific gametocyte stage V proteins in P. falciparum and confirmed either conserved sex-specificity or the lack of cross-species sex-partitioning. Finally, our study provides not only an additional resource for mass spectrometry-derived evidence for gametocyte proteins but also lays down the foundation for rational screening and development of novel sex-partitioned protein biomarkers and transmission-blocking vaccine candidates.
PMCID: PMC4188997  PMID: 25056935
12.  Characterization of Functional Reprogramming during Osteoclast Development Using Quantitative Proteomics and mRNA Profiling* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(10):2687-2704.
In addition to forming macrophages and dendritic cells, monocytes in adult peripheral blood retain the ability to develop into osteoclasts, mature bone-resorbing cells. The extensive morphological and functional transformations that occur during osteoclast differentiation require substantial reprogramming of gene and protein expression. Here we employ -omic-scale technologies to examine in detail the molecular changes at discrete developmental stages in this process (precursor cells, intermediate osteoclasts, and multinuclear osteoclasts), quantitatively comparing their transcriptomes and proteomes. The data have been deposited to the ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD000471.
Our analysis identified mitochondrial changes, along with several alterations in signaling pathways, as central to the development of mature osteoclasts, while also confirming changes in pathways previously implicated in osteoclast biology. In particular, changes in the expression of proteins involved in metabolism and redirection of energy flow from basic cellular function toward bone resorption appeared to play a key role in the switch from monocytic immune system function to specialized bone-turnover function. These findings provide new insight into the differentiation program involved in the generation of functional osteoclasts.
PMCID: PMC4188996  PMID: 25044017
13.  In-depth Characterization of the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Proteome Displayed Through the CSF Proteome Resource (CSF-PR)*  
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(11):3152-3163.
In this study, the human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) proteome was mapped using three different strategies prior to Orbitrap LC-MS/MS analysis: SDS-PAGE and mixed mode reversed phase-anion exchange for mapping the global CSF proteome, and hydrazide-based glycopeptide capture for mapping glycopeptides. A maximal protein set of 3081 proteins (28,811 peptide sequences) was identified, of which 520 were identified as glycoproteins from the glycopeptide enrichment strategy, including 1121 glycopeptides and their glycosylation sites. To our knowledge, this is the largest number of identified proteins and glycopeptides reported for CSF, including 417 glycosylation sites not previously reported. From parallel plasma samples, we identified 1050 proteins (9739 peptide sequences). An overlap of 877 proteins was found between the two body fluids, whereas 2204 proteins were identified only in CSF and 173 only in plasma. All mapping results are freely available via the new CSF Proteome Resource (, which can be used to navigate the CSF proteome and help guide the selection of signature peptides in targeted quantitative proteomics.
PMCID: PMC4223498  PMID: 25038066
14.  Identification of Novel Biomarker Candidates for the Immunohistochemical Diagnosis of Cholangiocellular Carcinoma* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(10):2661-2672.
The aim of this study was the identification of novel biomarker candidates for the diagnosis of cholangiocellular carcinoma (CCC) and its immunohistochemical differentiation from benign liver and bile duct cells. CCC is a primary cancer that arises from the epithelial cells of bile ducts and is characterized by high mortality rates due to its late clinical presentation and limited treatment options. Tumorous tissue and adjacent non-tumorous liver tissue from eight CCC patients were analyzed by means of two-dimensional differential in-gel electrophoresis and mass-spectrometry-based label-free proteomics. After data analysis and statistical evaluation of the proteins found to be differentially regulated between the two experimental groups (fold change ≥ 1.5; p value ≤ 0.05), 14 candidate proteins were chosen for determination of the cell-type-specific expression profile via immunohistochemistry in a cohort of 14 patients. This confirmed the significant up-regulation of serpin H1, 14-3-3 protein sigma, and stress-induced phosphoprotein 1 in tumorous cholangiocytes relative to normal hepatocytes and non-tumorous cholangiocytes, whereas some proteins were detectable specifically in hepatocytes. Because stress-induced phosphoprotein 1 exhibited both sensitivity and specificity of 100%, an immunohistochemical verification examining tissue sections of 60 CCC patients was performed. This resulted in a specificity of 98% and a sensitivity of 64%. We therefore conclude that this protein should be considered as a potential diagnostic biomarker for CCC in an immunohistochemical application, possibly in combination with other candidates from this study in the form of a biomarker panel. This could improve the differential diagnosis of CCC and benign bile duct diseases, as well as metastatic malignancies in the liver.
PMCID: PMC4188994  PMID: 25034945
15.  Immunoglobulin G (IgG) Fab Glycosylation Analysis Using a New Mass Spectrometric High-throughput Profiling Method Reveals Pregnancy-associated Changes*  
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(11):3029-3039.
The N-linked glycosylation of the constant fragment (Fc) of immunoglobulin G has been shown to change during pathological and physiological events and to strongly influence antibody inflammatory properties. In contrast, little is known about Fab-linked N-glycosylation, carried by ∼20% of IgG. Here we present a high-throughput workflow to analyze Fab and Fc glycosylation of polyclonal IgG purified from 5 μl of serum. We were able to detect and quantify 37 different N-glycans by means of MALDI-TOF-MS analysis in reflectron positive mode using a novel linkage-specific derivatization of sialic acid. This method was applied to 174 samples of a pregnancy cohort to reveal Fab glycosylation features and their change with pregnancy. Data analysis revealed marked differences between Fab and Fc glycosylation, especially in the levels of galactosylation and sialylation, incidence of bisecting GlcNAc, and presence of high mannose structures, which were all higher in the Fab portion than the Fc, whereas Fc showed higher levels of fucosylation. Additionally, we observed several changes during pregnancy and after delivery. Fab N-glycan sialylation was increased and bisection was decreased relative to postpartum time points, and nearly complete galactosylation of Fab glycans was observed throughout. Fc glycosylation changes were similar to results described before, with increased galactosylation and sialylation and decreased bisection during pregnancy. We expect that the parallel analysis of IgG Fab and Fc, as set up in this paper, will be important for unraveling roles of these glycans in (auto)immunity, which may be mediated via recognition by human lectins or modulation of antigen binding.
PMCID: PMC4223489  PMID: 25004930
16.  The mzTab Data Exchange Format: Communicating Mass-spectrometry-based Proteomics and Metabolomics Experimental Results to a Wider Audience* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(10):2765-2775.
The HUPO Proteomics Standards Initiative has developed several standardized data formats to facilitate data sharing in mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics. These allow researchers to report their complete results in a unified way. However, at present, there is no format to describe the final qualitative and quantitative results for proteomics and metabolomics experiments in a simple tabular format. Many downstream analysis use cases are only concerned with the final results of an experiment and require an easily accessible format, compatible with tools such as Microsoft Excel or R.
We developed the mzTab file format for MS-based proteomics and metabolomics results to meet this need. mzTab is intended as a lightweight supplement to the existing standard XML-based file formats (mzML, mzIdentML, mzQuantML), providing a comprehensive summary, similar in concept to the supplemental material of a scientific publication. mzTab files can contain protein, peptide, and small molecule identifications together with experimental metadata and basic quantitative information. The format is not intended to store the complete experimental evidence but provides mechanisms to report results at different levels of detail. These range from a simple summary of the final results to a representation of the results including the experimental design. This format is ideally suited to make MS-based proteomics and metabolomics results available to a wider biological community outside the field of MS. Several software tools for proteomics and metabolomics have already adapted the format as an output format. The comprehensive mzTab specification document and extensive additional documentation can be found online.
PMCID: PMC4189001  PMID: 24980485
17.  Top-down Proteomics Reveals Concerted Reductions in Myofilament and Z-disc Protein Phosphorylation after Acute Myocardial Infarction* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(10):2752-2764.
Heart failure (HF) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and is most often precipitated by myocardial infarction. However, the molecular changes driving cardiac dysfunction immediately after myocardial infarction remain poorly understood. Myofilament proteins, responsible for cardiac contraction and relaxation, play critical roles in signal reception and transduction in HF. Post-translational modifications of myofilament proteins afford a mechanism for the beat-to-beat regulation of cardiac function. Thus it is of paramount importance to gain a comprehensive understanding of post-translational modifications of myofilament proteins involved in regulating early molecular events in the post-infarcted myocardium. We have developed a novel liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry-based top-down proteomics strategy to comprehensively assess the modifications of key cardiac proteins in the myofilament subproteome extracted from a minimal amount of myocardial tissue with high reproducibility and throughput. The entire procedure, including tissue homogenization, myofilament extraction, and on-line LC/MS, takes less than three hours. Notably, enabled by this novel top-down proteomics technology, we discovered a concerted significant reduction in the phosphorylation of three crucial cardiac proteins in acutely infarcted swine myocardium: cardiac troponin I and myosin regulatory light chain of the myofilaments and, unexpectedly, enigma homolog isoform 2 (ENH2) of the Z-disc. Furthermore, top-down MS allowed us to comprehensively sequence these proteins and pinpoint their phosphorylation sites. For the first time, we have characterized the sequence of ENH2 and identified it as a phosphoprotein. ENH2 is localized at the Z-disc, which has been increasingly recognized for its role as a nodal point in cardiac signaling. Thus our proteomics discovery opens up new avenues for the investigation of concerted signaling between myofilament and Z-disc in the early molecular events that contribute to cardiac dysfunction and progression to HF.
PMCID: PMC4189000  PMID: 24969035
18.  Convergence of Ubiquitylation and Phosphorylation Signaling in Rapamycin-treated Yeast Cells*  
The target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase senses the availability of nutrients and coordinates cellular growth and proliferation with nutrient abundance. Inhibition of TOR mimics nutrient starvation and leads to the reorganization of many cellular processes, including autophagy, protein translation, and vesicle trafficking. TOR regulates cellular physiology by modulating phosphorylation and ubiquitylation signaling networks; however, the global scope of such regulation is not fully known. Here, we used a mass-spectrometry-based proteomics approach for the parallel quantification of ubiquitylation, phosphorylation, and proteome changes in rapamycin-treated yeast cells. Our data constitute a detailed proteomic analysis of rapamycin-treated yeast with 3590 proteins, 8961 phosphorylation sites, and 2299 di-Gly modified lysines (putative ubiquitylation sites) quantified. The phosphoproteome was extensively modulated by rapamycin treatment, with more than 900 up-regulated sites one hour after rapamycin treatment. Dynamically regulated phosphoproteins were involved in diverse cellular processes, prominently including transcription, membrane organization, vesicle-mediated transport, and autophagy. Several hundred ubiquitylation sites were increased after rapamycin treatment, and about half as many decreased in abundance. We found that proteome, phosphorylation, and ubiquitylation changes converged on the Rsp5-ubiquitin ligase, Rsp5 adaptor proteins, and Rsp5 targets. Putative Rsp5 targets were biased for increased ubiquitylation, suggesting activation of Rsp5 by rapamycin. Rsp5 adaptor proteins, which recruit target proteins for Rsp5-dependent ubiquitylation, were biased for increased phosphorylation. Furthermore, we found that permeases and transporters, which are often ubiquitylated by Rsp5, were biased for reduced ubiquitylation and reduced protein abundance. The convergence of multiple proteome-level changes on the Rsp5 system indicates a key role of this pathway in the response to rapamycin treatment. Collectively, these data reveal new insights into the global proteome dynamics in response to rapamycin treatment and provide a first detailed view of the co-regulation of phosphorylation- and ubiquitylation-dependent signaling networks by this compound.
PMCID: PMC4125731  PMID: 24961812
19.  Redox State of Pentraxin 3 as a Novel Biomarker for Resolution of Inflammation and Survival in Sepsis* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(10):2545-2557.
In an endotoxaemic mouse model of sepsis, a tissue-based proteomics approach for biomarker discovery identified long pentraxin 3 (PTX3) as the lead candidate for inflamed myocardium. When the redox-sensitive oligomerization state of PTX3 was further investigated, PTX3 accumulated as an octamer as a result of disulfide-bond formation in heart, kidney, and lung—common organ dysfunctions seen in patients with sepsis. Oligomeric moieties of PTX3 were also detectable in circulation. The oligomerization state of PTX3 was quantified over the first 11 days in critically ill adult patients with sepsis. On admission day, there was no difference in the oligomerization state of PTX3 between survivors and non-survivors. From day 2 onward, the conversion of octameric to monomeric PTX3 was consistently associated with a greater survival after 28 days of follow-up. For example, by day 2 post-admission, octameric PTX3 was barely detectable in survivors, but it still constituted more than half of the total PTX3 in non-survivors (p < 0.001). Monomeric PTX3 was inversely associated with cardiac damage markers NT-proBNP and high-sensitivity troponin I and T. Relative to the conventional measurements of total PTX3 or NT-proBNP, the oligomerization of PTX3 was a superior predictor of disease outcome.
PMCID: PMC4188985  PMID: 24958171
20.  Phosphorylation Dependence and Stoichiometry of the Complex Formed by Tyrosine Hydroxylase and 14-3-3γ*  
Phosphorylated tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) can form complexes with 14-3-3 proteins, resulting in enzyme activation and stabilization. Although TH was among the first binding partners identified for these ubiquitous regulatory proteins, the binding stoichiometry and the activation mechanism remain unknown. To address this, we performed native mass spectrometry analyses of human TH (nonphosphorylated or phosphorylated on Ser19 (TH-pS19), Ser40 (TH-pS40), or Ser19 and Ser40 (TH-pS19pS40)) alone and together with 14-3-3γ. Tetrameric TH-pS19 (224 kDa) bound 14-3-3γ (58.3 kDa) with high affinity (Kd = 3.2 nM), generating complexes containing either one (282.4 kDa) or two (340.8 kDa) dimers of 14-3-3. Electron microscopy also revealed one major population of an asymmetric complex, consistent with one TH tetramer and one 14-3-3 dimer, and a minor population of a symmetric complex of one TH tetramer with two 14-3-3 dimers. Lower phosphorylation stoichiometries (0.15–0.54 phosphate/monomer) produced moderate changes in binding kinetics, but native MS detected much less of the symmetric TH:14-3-3γ complex. Interestingly, dephosphorylation of [32P]-TH-pS19 was mono-exponential for low phosphorylation stoichiometries (0.18–0.52), and addition of phosphatase accelerated the dissociation of the TH-pS19:14-3-3γ complex 3- to 4-fold. All together this is consistent with a model in which the pS19 residues in the TH tetramer contribute differently in the association to 14-3-3γ. Complex formation between TH-pS40 and 14-3-3γ was not detected via native MS, and surface plasmon resonance showed that the interaction was very weak. Furthermore, TH-pS19pS40 behaved similarly to TH-pS19 in terms of binding stoichiometry and affinity (Kd = 2.1 nM). However, we found that 14-3-3γ inhibited the phosphorylation rate of TH-pS19 by PKA (3.5-fold) on Ser40. We therefore conclude that Ser40 does not significantly contribute to the binding of 14-3-3γ, and rather has reduced accessibility in the TH:14-3-3γ complex. This adds to our understanding of the fine-tuned physiological regulation of TH, including hierarchical phosphorylation at multiple sites.
PMCID: PMC4125734  PMID: 24947669
21.  Accurate Proteome-wide Label-free Quantification by Delayed Normalization and Maximal Peptide Ratio Extraction, Termed MaxLFQ *  
Protein quantification without isotopic labels has been a long-standing interest in the proteomics field. However, accurate and robust proteome-wide quantification with label-free approaches remains a challenge. We developed a new intensity determination and normalization procedure called MaxLFQ that is fully compatible with any peptide or protein separation prior to LC-MS analysis. Protein abundance profiles are assembled using the maximum possible information from MS signals, given that the presence of quantifiable peptides varies from sample to sample. For a benchmark dataset with two proteomes mixed at known ratios, we accurately detected the mixing ratio over the entire protein expression range, with greater precision for abundant proteins. The significance of individual label-free quantifications was obtained via a t test approach. For a second benchmark dataset, we accurately quantify fold changes over several orders of magnitude, a task that is challenging with label-based methods. MaxLFQ is a generic label-free quantification technology that is readily applicable to many biological questions; it is compatible with standard statistical analysis workflows, and it has been validated in many and diverse biological projects. Our algorithms can handle very large experiments of 500+ samples in a manageable computing time. It is implemented in the freely available MaxQuant computational proteomics platform and works completely seamlessly at the click of a button.
PMCID: PMC4159666  PMID: 24942700
22.  Analytical Utility of Mass Spectral Binning in Proteomic Experiments by SPectral Immonium Ion Detection (SPIID)*  
Unambiguous identification of tandem mass spectra is a cornerstone in mass-spectrometry-based proteomics. As the study of post-translational modifications (PTMs) by means of shotgun proteomics progresses in depth and coverage, the ability to correctly identify PTM-bearing peptides is essential, increasing the demand for advanced data interpretation. Several PTMs are known to generate unique fragment ions during tandem mass spectrometry, the so-called diagnostic ions, which unequivocally identify a given mass spectrum as related to a specific PTM. Although such ions offer tremendous analytical advantages, algorithms to decipher MS/MS spectra for the presence of diagnostic ions in an unbiased manner are currently lacking. Here, we present a systematic spectral-pattern-based approach for the discovery of diagnostic ions and new fragmentation mechanisms in shotgun proteomics datasets. The developed software tool is designed to analyze large sets of high-resolution peptide fragmentation spectra independent of the fragmentation method, instrument type, or protease employed. To benchmark the software tool, we analyzed large higher-energy collisional activation dissociation datasets of samples containing phosphorylation, ubiquitylation, SUMOylation, formylation, and lysine acetylation. Using the developed software tool, we were able to identify known diagnostic ions by comparing histograms of modified and unmodified peptide spectra. Because the investigated tandem mass spectra data were acquired with high mass accuracy, unambiguous interpretation and determination of the chemical composition for the majority of detected fragment ions was feasible. Collectively we present a freely available software tool that allows for comprehensive and automatic analysis of analogous product ions in tandem mass spectra and systematic mapping of fragmentation mechanisms related to common amino acids.
PMCID: PMC4125726  PMID: 24895383
23.  Membrane Protein Profiling of Human Colon Reveals Distinct Regional Differences *  
The colonic epithelium is a highly dynamic system important for the regulation of ion and water homeostasis via absorption and secretion and for the maintenance of a protective barrier between the outer milieu and the inside of the body. These processes are known to gradually change along the length of the colon, although a complete characterization at the protein level is lacking. We therefore analyzed the membrane proteome of isolated human (n = 4) colonic epithelial cells from biopsies obtained via routine colonoscopy for four segments along the large intestine: ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid colon. Label-free quantitative proteomic analyses using high-resolution mass spectrometry were performed on enriched membrane proteins. The results showed a stable level for the majority of membrane proteins but a distinct decrease in proteins associated with bacterial sensing, cation transport, and O-glycosylation in the proximal to distal regions. In contrast, proteins involved in microbial defense and anion transport showed an opposing gradient and increased toward the distal end. The gradient of ion-transporter proteins could be directly related to previously observed ion transport activities. All individual glycosyltransferases required for the O-glycosylation of the major colonic mucin MUC2 were observed and correlated with the known glycosylation variation along the colon axis. This is the first comprehensive quantitative dataset of membrane protein abundance along the human colon and will add to the knowledge of the physiological function of the different regions of the colonic mucosa. Mass spectrometry data have been deposited to the ProteomeXchange with the identifier PXD000987.
PMCID: PMC4159649  PMID: 24889196
24.  A Proteome-wide Domain-centric Perspective on Protein Phosphorylation *  
Phosphorylation is a widespread post-translational modification that modulates the function of a large number of proteins. Here we show that a significant proportion of all the domains in the human proteome is significantly enriched or depleted in phosphorylation events. A substantial improvement in phosphosites prediction is achieved by leveraging this observation, which has not been tapped by existing methods. Phosphorylation sites are often not shared between multiple occurrences of the same domain in the proteome, even when the phosphoacceptor residue is conserved. This is partly because of different functional constraints acting on the same domain in different protein contexts. Moreover, by augmenting domain alignments with structural information, we were able to provide direct evidence that phosphosites in protein-protein interfaces need not be positionally conserved, likely because they can modulate interactions simply by sitting in the same general surface area.
PMCID: PMC4159644  PMID: 24830415
25.  qcML: An Exchange Format for Quality Control Metrics from Mass Spectrometry Experiments*  
Quality control is increasingly recognized as a crucial aspect of mass spectrometry based proteomics. Several recent papers discuss relevant parameters for quality control and present applications to extract these from the instrumental raw data. What has been missing, however, is a standard data exchange format for reporting these performance metrics. We therefore developed the qcML format, an XML-based standard that follows the design principles of the related mzML, mzIdentML, mzQuantML, and TraML standards from the HUPO-PSI (Proteomics Standards Initiative). In addition to the XML format, we also provide tools for the calculation of a wide range of quality metrics as well as a database format and interconversion tools, so that existing LIMS systems can easily add relational storage of the quality control data to their existing schema. We here describe the qcML specification, along with possible use cases and an illustrative example of the subsequent analysis possibilities. All information about qcML is available at
PMCID: PMC4125725  PMID: 24760958

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