Quantitative Peptidomics with Five-plex Reductive Methylation labels

Alexandre K. Tashima, Lloyd D. Fricker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Quantitative peptidomics and proteomics often use chemical tags to covalently modify peptides with reagents that differ in the number of stable isotopes, allowing for quantitation of the relative peptide levels in the original sample based on the peak height of each isotopic form. Different chemical reagents have been used as tags for quantitative peptidomics and proteomics, and all have strengths and weaknesses. One of the simplest approaches uses formaldehyde and sodium cyanoborohydride to methylate amines, converting primary and secondary amines into tertiary amines. Up to five different isotopic forms can be generated, depending on the isotopic forms of formaldehyde and cyanoborohydride reagents, allowing for five-plex quantitation. However, the mass difference between each of these forms is only 1 Da per methyl group incorporated into the peptide, and for many peptides there is substantial overlap from the natural abundance of 13 C and other isotopes. In this study, we calculated the contribution from the natural isotopes for 26 native peptides and derived equations to correct the peak intensities. These equations were applied to data from a study using human embryonic kidney HEK293T cells in which five replicates were treated with 100 nM vinblastine for 3 h and compared with five replicates of cells treated with control medium. The correction equations brought the replicates to the expected 1:1 ratios and revealed significant decreases in levels of 21 peptides upon vinblastine treatment. These equations enable accurate quantitation of small changes in peptide levels using the reductive methylation labeling approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)866-878
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Cyanoborohydride
  • Formaldehyde
  • Isotopic labels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Spectroscopy


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