Abundant blood proteins adducted by active electrophiles are excellent markers to predict the risk of electrophile-induced toxicity. However, detecting endogenously adducted proteins by bottom-up selective (or parallel) reaction monitoring (SRM/PRM) is challenging because of the high variability in sample preparation and detection as well as low adduction levels. Here, we reported a new approach in developing PRM methods by combining intact protein measurement with standard additions to target optimal conditions for detecting catechol estrogens (CEs)-adducted human serum albumin (HSA). Blood serum was added with multiple amounts of CEs to obtain serum standards. Intact protein measurement revealed two linear ranges of adduction levels (adducted-CE/HSA): 0.34-0.42 (R2 > 0.94) and 0.81-8.54 (R2 > 0.96) against the amount of added CEs, respectively. Six adduction sites were identified by trypsin (K20, C34, K73, K281, H338, K378) or chymotrypsin (K20, C34, K378) digestion. PRM methods targeting all adducted/nonadducted peptide pairs based on chymotrypsin or trypsin digestion were developed, and the data were compared with those obtained by intact protein measurement. Correlation plots indicated that chymotrypsin-PRM leads to poor sensitivity and largely underestimated protein adduction levels. Trypsin-PRM leads to sensitive and highly correlated (R2 > 0.91) protein adduction levels with a detection limit below the endogenous level and relative standard deviation <25%. As a proof of concept, clinical serum samples were examined by trypsin-PRM, and a slightly higher adduction level was observed for the obesity group when compared with the healthy group. This is the first report on determining adduction levels of blood proteins for long-term exposure to CEs. The standard addition approach can be generally applied to protein adductomics with resolvable mass increments by intact protein measurement to accelerate the development of bottom-up methods close to the inherent limit.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry