Label-free peptide quantification in liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) proteomics analyses is complicated by the presence of isobaric coeluting peptides, as they generate the same extracted ion chromatogram corresponding to the sum of their intensities. Histone proteins are especially prone to this, as they are heavily modified by post-translational modifications (PTMs). Their proteolytic digestion leads to a large number of peptides sharing the same mass, while carrying PTMs on different amino acid residues. We present an application of MS data-independent acquisition (DIA) to confidently determine and quantify modified histone peptides. By introducing the use of low-resolution MS/MS DIA, we demonstrate that the signals of 111 histone peptides could easily be extracted from LC-MS runs due to the relatively low sample complexity. By exploiting an LTQ-Orbitrap mass spectrometer, we parallelized MS and MS/MS scan events using the Orbitrap and the linear ion trap, respectively, decreasing the total scan time. This, in combination with large windows for MS/MS fragmentation (50 m/z) and multiple full scan events within a DIA duty cycle, led to a MS scan cycle speed of ∼45 full MS per minute, improving the definition of extracted LC-MS chromatogram profiles. By using such acquisition method, we achieved highly comparable results to our optimized acquisition method for histone peptide analysis (R2 correlation > 0.98), which combines data-dependent acquisition (DDA) and targeted MS/MS scans, the latter targeting isobaric peptides. By using DIA, we could also remine our data set and quantify 16 additional isobaric peptides commonly not targeted during DDA experiments. Finally, we demonstrated that by performing the full MS scan in the linear ion trap, we achieve highly comparable results as when adopting high-resolution MS scans (R2 correlation 0.97). Taken together, results confirmed that histone peptide analysis can be performed using DIA and low-resolution MS with high accuracy and precision of peptide quantification. Moreover, DIA intrinsically enables data remining to later identify and quantify isobaric peptides unknown at the time of the LC-MS experiment. These methods will open up epigenetics analyses to the proteomics community who do not have routine access to the newer generation high-resolution MS/MS generating instruments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry