Why wait ? Sample prep/protein digestion in as little as 30 minutes!

While many proteases are used in bottom-up mass spectrometric (MS) analysis, trypsin (4,5) is the de facto protease of choice for most applications. There are several reasons for this: Trypsin is highly efficient, active and specific. Tryptic peptides produced after proteolysis are ideally suited, in terms of both size (350–1,600 Daltons) and charge (+2 to +4), for MS analysis. One significant drawback to trypsin digestion is the long sample preparation times, which typically range from 4 hours to overnight for most protocols. Achieving efficient digestion usually requires that protein substrates first be unfolded either with surfactants or denaturants such as urea or guanidine. These chemical additives can have negative effects, including protein modification, inhibition of trypsin or incompatibility with downstream LC-MS/MS. Accordingly, additional steps are typically required to remove these compounds prior to analysis.

To shorten the time required to prepare samples for LC-MS/MS analysis, we have developed a specialized trypsin preparation that supports rapid and efficient digestion at temperatures as high as 70°C. There are several benefits to this approach. First, proteolytic reaction times are dramatically shortened. Second, because no chemical denaturants have been added, off -line sample cleanup is not necessary, leading to shorter preparation times and diminished sample losses.

The Rapid Digestion trypsin protocols are highly flexible. They can accommodate a variety of additives including reducing and alkylating agents. There are no restrictions on sample volume or substrate concentrations with these kits. Furthermore, the protocol is simple to follow and requires no laboratory equipment beyond a heat block. Digestion is achieved completely using an in-solution approach, and since the enzyme is not immobilized on beads, the protocol does not have strict requirements for rapid shaking and off -line filtering to remove beads.

In addition to the benefits of this flexibility, we also developed a Rapid Digestion–Trypsin/Lys-C mixture. Like the Trypsin/Lys-C Mix previously developed to prepare maximally efficiently proteolytic digests, particularly for complex mixtures, Rapid Digestion–Trypsin/Lys C is ideally suited for studies that require improved reproducibility across samples.


Mass Spec-Compatible Proteome Reference Material

MSextractcroppedThe complexity of biological samples places high demand on mass spec analytical capability. Adequate monitoring of instrument performance for proteomics studies requires equally complex reference material such as whole-cell extracts. However, whole-cell extracts available commercially are developed for general research (e.g., enzymatic or Western blot analysis) and contain detergents and salts that interfere with reverse phase liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Even after clean up, the extracts need to be digested, requiring time, labor and experience to generate samples for use in mass spectrometry. To address the need for complex protein material, we have developed whole-cell protein extracts from yeast and human cells. The yeast extract offers the convenience of a relatively small and well annotated proteome, whereas the human extract provides a complex proteome with large dynamic range. The human extract also serves as reference material for studies targeting the human proteome.

The extracts are free of compounds that interfere with reverse phase liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), and have been reduced with DTT and alkylated with iodoacetamide then digested with Trypsin/Lys-C Mix and lyophilized. These digested extracts (tryptic peptides) can be readily reconstituted in trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) or formic acid and injected into an instrument. The same human and yeast whole-cell extracts also are provided in an intact (undigested) form for users who would like to develop an independent method for preparing protein mass spectrometry samples. For convenience, the intact extracts are provided as a frozen solution.

Consistent extract protein composition is ensured by tight control over cell culture conditions and manufacturing process. Lot-to-lot consistency of extracts is monitored by various protein and peptide qualitative and quantitation methods, including LC-MS. (Quality control results are provided upon request.) Our manufacturing process assures compatibility with reverse phase liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, minimal nonspecific protein fragmentation, nonbiological post-translational modifi cations and,for digested extracts, minimal undigested peptides. The extracts are optimized for a high number of peptide and protein identifications in mass spectrometry analysis.

For more information, you can access the protocol here.

Increased protein identification using Pseudomonas and Lysobacter Lys-C proteases

Alternate Proteases CoverOwing to efficient proteolysis and particular advantages of trypsin-generated peptides for mass spectrometry analysis, trypsin is the most widely used proteomic protease. Recently, however, Lys-C has been increasingly used as either a trypsin alternate or as supplement. Its increasing favor is largely due to its ability to perform proteolytic digestion under protein denaturing conditions, an attribute that can greatly extend the observable proteome.

Lys-C is found in number of bacterial hosts with Lysobacter enzymogenes being used as a most popular source of commercially available Lys-C. We have now developed a recombinant form of Lys-C from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We have compared performance of Pseudomonas and Lysobacter Lys-C.
Surprisingly, we found difference between Pseudomonas and Lysobacter Lys-C proteases on peptide level. The peptides generated by the proteases had much smaller overlap (25%) than typically observed between runs for the same sample indicating different bias toward lysine cleavage sites for Pseudomonas and Lysobacter Lys-C.
The proteases might have different proteolytic mechanisms. In fact, difference in proteolytic mechanisms is not unexpected considering the limited homology between these two proteases
Therefore we recommend combined digestion with Pseudomonas and Lysobacter Lys-C to maximize peptide and protein identification.

For a detailed technical review of these two protease visit: http://www.promega.com/resources/scientific_posters/posters/a-novel-recombinant-lysc-protease-for-proteomic-sample-preparation-scientific-poster/

Use of Nonspecific Proteases for Analysis of Proteins by Mass Spectrometry

mass spectrometry resultsOne of the approaches to identify proteins by mass spectrometry includes the separation of proteins by gel electrophoresis or liquid chromatography. Subsequently the proteins are cleaved with sequence-specific endoproteases. Following digestion the generated peptides are investigated by determination of molecular masses or specific sequence. For protein identification the experimentally obtained masses/sequences are compared with theoretical masses/sequences compiled in various databases.

Nonspecific proteases such as pepsin, proteinase K, elastase and thermolysin can offer an alternative to traditional sequence-specific proteases for certain applications. The following references illustrate the use of nonspecific proteinases for the mass spec analysis of proteins:

Papasotiriou, D. et al. (2010) Peptide mass fingerprinting after less specific in-gel proteolysis using MALDI-LTQ-Orbitrap and 4-chloro-alpha-cyanocinnamic acid. J. Proteome. Res. 9, 2619–29. This reference demonstrates the use of either chymotrypsin, elastase, trypsin or proteinase K in combination with matrix CHCA for increase peptide identification and sequence coverage using MALDI.

Neue, K. et al. (2011) Elucidation of glycoprotein structures by unspecific proteolysis and direct nanoESI mass spectrometric analysis of ZIC-HILIC-enriched glycopeptides. J. Proteome. Res. 10, 2248–60. Notes use of thermolysin or elastase in combination with ZIC-HILIC enrichment as alternative method for the characterization of glycopeptides.

Baeumlisberger, D et al. (2011) Simple dual-spotting procedure enhances nLC-MALDI MS/MS analysis of digests with less specific enzymes. J. Proteome. Res. 10, 2889–94. Data noted that samples digested with elastase followed by nLC separation and subsequent alternative spotting on both MALDI-LTQ-Orbitrap and MALDL-TOF/TOF instruments resulted in 32% additional peptides.