Phosphopeptide enrichment by covalent chromatography after derivatization of protein digests immobilized on reversed-phase supports

Heinz Nika, Edward Nieves, David H. Hawke, Ruth H. Angeletti

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4 Scopus citations


A rugged sample-preparation method for comprehensive affinity enrichment of phosphopeptides from protein digests has been developed. The method uses a series of chemical reactions to incorporate efficiently and specifically a thiol-functionalized affinity tag into the analyte by barium hydroxide catalyzed β-elimination with Michael addition using 2-aminoethanethiol as nucleophile and subsequent thiolation of the resulting amino group with sulfosuccinimidyl-2-(biotinamido) ethyl-1,3-dithiopropionate. Gentle oxidation of cysteine residues, followed by acetylation of α- and ε-amino groups before these reactions, ensured selectivity of reversible capture of the modified phosphopeptides by covalent chromatography on activated thiol sepharose. The use of C18 reversed-phase supports as a miniaturized reaction bed facilitated optimization of the individual modification steps for throughput and completeness of derivatization. Reagents were exchanged directly on the supports, eliminating sample transfer between the reaction steps and thus, allowing the immobilized analyte to be carried through the multistep reaction scheme with minimal sample loss. The use of this sample-preparation method for phosphopeptide enrichment was demonstrated with low-level amounts of in-gel-digested protein. As applied to tryptic digests of α-S1- and β-casein, the method enabled the enrichment and detection of the phosphorylated peptides contained in the mixture, including the tetraphosphorylated species of β-casein, which has escaped chemical procedures reported previously. The isolates proved highly suitable for mapping the sites of phosphorylation by collisionally induced dissociation. β-Elimination, with consecutive Michael addition, expanded the use of the solid-phase-based enrichment strategy to phosphothreonyl peptides and to phosphoseryl/phosphothreonyl peptides derived from prolinedirected kinase substrates and to their O-sulfono- and O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc)-modified counterparts. Solid-phase enzymatic dephosphorylation proved to be a viable tool to condition O-GlcNAcylated peptide in mixtures with phosphopeptides for selective affinity purification. Acetylation, as an integral step of the sample-preparation method, precluded reduction in recovery of the thiolation substrate caused by intrapeptide lysine-dehydroalanine cross-link formation. The solid-phase analytical platform provides robustness and simplicity of operation using equipment readily available in most biological laboratories and is expected to accommodate additional chemistries to expand the scope of solid-phase serial derivatization for protein structural characterization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-177
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Biomolecular Techniques
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Affinity purification
  • Alkaline phosphatase
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Multistep solid phase
  • O-glycopeptides
  • Phosphorylation-site determination
  • Sulfonopeptides
  • β-elimination/michael addition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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