Multiplexed Targeted Mass Spectrometry-Based Assays for the Quantification of N-Linked Glycosite-Containing Peptides in Serum

Thomas SN, Harlan R, Chen J, Aiyetan P, Liu Y, Sokoll LJ, Aebersold R, Chan DW, Zhang H. Anal Chem. 2015 Nov 3;87(21):10830-8. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b02063. PMID: 26451657

Protein glycosylation is one of the most common protein modifications, and the quantitative analysis of glycoproteins has the potential to reveal biological functions and their association with disease. However, the high throughput accurate quantification of glycoproteins is technically challenging due to the scarcity of robust assays to detect and quantify glycoproteins. Here we describe the development of multiplexed targeted MS assays to quantify N-linked glycosite-containing peptides in serum using parallel reaction monitoring (PRM). Each assay was characterized by its performance metrics and criteria established by the National Cancer Institute’s Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (NCI CPTAC) to facilitate the widespread adoption of the assays in studies designed to confidently detect changes in the relative abundance of these analytes. An in-house developed software program, MRMPlus, was used to compute assay performance parameters including specificity, precision, and repeatability. We show that 43 selected N-linked glycosite-containing peptides identified in prostate cancer tissue studies carried out in our group were detected in the sera of prostate cancer patients within the quantitative range of the developed PRM assays. A total of 41 of these formerly N-linked glycosite-containing peptides (corresponding to 37 proteins) were reproducibly quantified based on their relative peak area ratios in human serum during PRM assay development, with 4 proteins showing differential significance in serum from nonaggressive (NAG) vs aggressive (AG) prostate cancer patient serum (n = 50, NAG vs AG). The data demonstrate that the assays can be used for the high throughput and reproducible quantification of a panel of formerly N-linked glycosite-containing peptides. The developed assays can also be used for the quantification of formerly N-linked glycosite-containing peptides in human serum irrespective of disease state.