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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Strategies to study human serum transferrin isoforms using integrated liquid chromatography ICPMS, MALDI-TOF, and ESI-Q-TOF detection: application to chronic alcohol abuse.

Variations in the distribution of sialoforms of human serum transferrin ( Tf) in correlation with pathological states, which are associated with abnormalities in glycosylation, is of great clinical interest. In such studies, the methodologies of analysis are required to be sensitive and selective for observing small variations among isoforms and able to characterize the molecular structure of such forms. Thus, the present work describes, in the first part, the separation of transferrin isoforms, after iron saturation of the protein, by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and the on-line specific atomic detection of the iron present on each of the separated isoforms by on-line coupling the HPLC system to an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICPMS). This allowed low detection levels for the different isoforms (L.D. 0.03 microMTf). After screening of the isoforms containing iron by ICPMS, structural characterization of each isoform can be independently carried out. Thus, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF) and electrospray mass spectrometry (ESI-Q-TOF) are compared in the second part of this study. The different atomic and molecular MS methods revealed the presence of elevated carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) isoforms in human serum samples from chronic alcohol consumption patients. MALDI-TOF appeared to be sensitive to concentration levels of the analytes, and the observed mass accuracy was highly compromised by the protein heterogeneity (peak width at half-maximum approximately 2000 Da for every fraction). On the other hand, ESI-Q-TOF allowed good mass accuracy (m < or = 0.05%) and peak width of 45 Da in the deconvoluted spectra; while ICPMS detection could be preferable for sensitive protein isoforms determinations, ESI-Q-TOF turns out to be an excellent "fingerprinting" technique for alcoholism diagnosis.[1]


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