J Biomol Tech 2012 Apr;23(1):11-23
Developmental Therapeutics Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19111-2497, USA.
Isobaric multiplexed quantitative proteomics can complement high-resolution sample isolation techniques. Here, we report a simple workflow exponentially modified protein abundance index (emPAI)-MW deconvolution (EMMOL) for normalizing isobaric reporter ratios within and between experiments, where small or unknown amounts of protein are used. EMMOL deconvolutes the isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) data to yield the quantity of each protein of each sample in the pool, a new approach that enables the comparison of many samples without including a channel of reference standard. Moreover, EMMOL allows using a sufficient quantity of control sample to facilitate the peptide fractionation (isoelectric-focusing was used in this report), and mass spectrometry MS/MS sequencing yet relies on the broad dynamic range of iTRAQ quantitation to compare relative protein abundance. We demonstrated EMMOL by comparing four pooled samples with 20-fold range differences in protein abundance and performed data normalization without using prior knowledge of the amounts of proteins in each sample, simulating an iTRAQ experiment without protein quantitation prior to labeling. We used emPAI, the target protein MW, and the iTRAQ reporter ratios to calculate the amount of each protein in each of the four channels. Importantly, the EMMOL-delineated proteomes from separate iTRAQ experiments can be assorted for comparison without using a reference sample. We observed no compression of expression in iTRAQ ratios over a 20-fold range for all protein abundances. To complement this ability to analyze minute samples, we report an optimized iTRAQ labeling protocol for using 5 μg protein as the starting material.