Targeted Quantification of Low ng/mL Level Proteins in Human Serum without Immunoaffinity Depletion
We recently reported an antibody-free targeted protein quantification strategy, termed high-pressure, high-resolution separations with intelligent selection and multiplexing (PRISM), for achieving significantly enhanced sensitivity using selected reaction monitoring (SRM) mass spectrometry. Integrating PRISM with front-end IgY14 immunoaffinity depletion, sensitive detection of targeted proteins at 50–100 pg/mL levels in human blood plasma/serum was demonstrated. However, immunoaffinity depletion is often associated with undesired losses of target proteins of interest. Herein we report further evaluation of PRISM-SRM quantification of low-abundance serum proteins without immunoaffinity depletion. Limits of quantification (LOQ) at low ng/mL levels with a median coefficient of variation (CV) of ∼12% were achieved for proteins spiked into human female serum. PRISM-SRM provided >100-fold improvement in the LOQ when compared to conventional LC-SRM measurements. PRISM-SRM was then applied to measure several low-abundance endogenous serum proteins, including prostate-specific antigen (PSA), in clinical prostate cancer patient sera. PRISM-SRM enabled confident detection of all target endogenous serum proteins except the low pg/mL-level cardiac troponin T. A correlation coefficient >0.99 was observed for PSA between the results from PRISM-SRM and immunoassays. Our results demonstrate that PRISM-SRM can successfully quantify low ng/mL proteins in human plasma or serum without depletion. We anticipate broad applications for PRISM-SRM quantification of low-abundance proteins in candidate biomarker verification and systems biology studies.