Quantitative analysis of bacterial and mammalian proteomes using a combination of cysteine affinity tags and 15N-metabolic labeling

T. P. Conrads, K. Alving, T. D. Veenstra, M. E. Belov, G. A. Anderson, D. J. Anderson, M. S. Lipton, L. Paša-Tolić, H. R. Udseth, W. B. Chrisler, B. D. Thrall, R. D. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

270 Scopus citations


We describe the combined use of 15N-metabolic labeling and a cysteine-reactive biotin affinity tag to isolate and quantitate cysteine-containing polypeptides (Cys-polypeptides) from Deinococcus radiodurans as well as from mouse B16 melanoma cells. D. radiodurans were cultured in both natural isotopic abundance and 15N-enriched media. Equal numbers of cells from both cultures were combined and the soluble proteins extracted. This mixture of isotopically distinct proteins was derivatized using a commercially available cysteine-reactive reagent that contains a biotin group. Following trypsin digestion, the resulting modified peptides were isolated using immobilized avidin. The mixture was analyzed by capillary reversed-phase liquid chromatography (LC) online with ion trap mass spectrometry (MS) as well as Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR) MS. The resulting spectra contain numerous pairs of Cys-polypeptides whose mass difference corresponds to the number of nitrogen atoms present in each of the peptides. Designation of Cys-polypeptide pairs is also facilitated by the distinctive isotopic distribution of the 15N-labeled peptides versus their 14N-labeled counterparts. Studies with mouse B16 cells maintained in culture allowed the observation of hundreds of isotopically distinct pairs of peptides by LC-FTICR analysis. The ratios of the areas of the pairs of isotopically distinct peptides showed the expected 1:1 labeling of the 14N and 15N versions of each peptide. An additional benefit from the present strategy is that the 15N-labeled peptides do not display significant isotope-dependent chromatographic shifts from their 14N-labeled counterparts, therefore improving the precision for quantitating peptide abundances. The methodology presented offers an alternate, cost-effective strategy for conducting global, quantitative proteomic measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2132-2139
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2001
Externally publishedYes


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