Journal of proteome research

Combinatorial use of electrostatic repulsion-hydrophilic interaction chromatography (ERLIC) and strong cation exchange (SCX) chromatography for in-depth phosphoproteome analysis.

PMID 22768876


In large-scale phosphoproteomics studies, fractionation by strong cation exchange (SCX) or electrostatic repulsion-hydrophilic interaction chromatography (ERLIC) is commonly used to reduce sample complexity, fractionate phosphopeptides from their unmodified counterparts, and increase the dynamic range for phosphopeptide identification. However, these procedures do not succeed to separate, both singly and multiply phosphorylated peptides due to their inverse physicochemical characteristics. Hence, depending on the chosen method only one of the two peptide classes can be efficiently separated. Here, we present a novel strategy based on the combinatorial separation of singly and multiply phosphorylated peptides by SCX and ERLIC for in-depth phosphoproteome analysis. In SCX, mostly singly phosphorylated peptides are retained and fractionated while not-retained multiply phosphorylated peptides are fractionated in a subsequent ERLIC approach (SCX-ERLIC). In ERLIC, multiply phosphorylated peptides are fractionated, while not-retained singly phosphorylated peptides are separated by SCX (ERLIC-SCX). Compared to single step fractionations by SCX, the combinatorial strategies, SCX-ERLIC and ERLIC-SCX, yield up to 48% more phosphopeptide identifications as well as a strong increase in the number of detected multiphosphorylated peptides. Phosphopeptides identified in two subsequent, complementary fractionations had little overlap (5%) indicating that ERLIC and SCX are orthogonal methods ideally suited for in-depth phosphoproteome studies.

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