Identifying deamidated peptides using low-resolution mass spectrometry is difficult because traditional database search programs cannot accurately detect modified peptides when the mass differences are only 0.984 Da. In this study, we utilized differential reversed-phase elution behavior of deamidated and corresponding unmodified peptide forms to significantly improve deamidation detection on a low-resolution LCQ ion trap instrument. We also improved the mass measurements of unmodified and deamidated peptide forms by averaging survey scans across each chromatogram peak. Tryptic digests of a series of normal (3-day old, 2-year old, 18-year old, 35-year old, and 70-year old) and cataractous (93-year old) human lens samples were used to produce large numbers of potentially deamidated peptides. The complex peptide mixtures were separated by strong cation exchange (SCX) chromatography followed by reversed-phase (RP) chromatography. Synthetic peptides were used to show that unmodified and deamidated peptides coeluted during the SCX separation and were completely resolved with the RP conditions used. Retention time shifts (RTS) and mass differences (ΔM) of deamidated lens peptides and their corresponding unmodified forms were manually determined for the 70-year old lens sample. These values were used to assign correct or incorrect deamidation identifications from SEQUEST searches where deamidation was specified as a variable modification. Manual validation of SEQUEST identifications from synthetic peptides, 3-day old, and 70-year old samples had an overall 42% deamidation detection accuracy. Filtering SEQUEST identifications using RTS and ΔM constraints resulted in >93% deamidation detection accuracy. An algorithm was developed to automate this method, and 72 Crystallin deamidation sites, 18 of which were not previously reported in human lens tissue, were detected.
- Human lens
- Ion trap
- Mass correction
- Mass spectrometry
- Post-translational modification
- Reversed-phase chromatography
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