The majority of mass spectrometry-based protein quantification studies uses peptide-centric analytical methods and thus strongly relies on efficient and unbiased protein digestion protocols for sample preparation. We present a novel objective approach to assess protein digestion efficiency using a combination of qualitative and quantitative LC-MS/MS methods and statistical data analysis. In contrast to previous studies we employed both standard qualitative as well as data-independent quantitative workflows to systematically assess trypsin digestion efficiency and bias using mitochondrial protein fractions. We evaluated nine trypsin-based digestion protocols, based on standard in-solution or on spin filter-aided digestion, including new optimized protocols. We investigated various reagents for protein solubilization and denaturation (dodecyl sulfate, deoxycholate, urea), several trypsin digestion conditions (buffer, RapiGest, deoxycholate, urea), and two methods for removal of detergents prior to analysis of peptides (acid precipitation or phase separation with ethyl acetate). Our data-independent quantitative LC-MS/MS workflow quantified over 3700 distinct peptides with 96% completeness between all protocols and replicates, with an average 40% protein sequence coverage and an average of 11 peptides identified per protein. Systematic quantitative and statistical analysis of physicochemical parameters demonstrated that deoxycholate-assisted in-solution digestion combined with phase transfer allows for efficient, unbiased generation and recovery of peptides from all protein classes, including membrane proteins. This deoxycholate-assisted protocol was also optimal for spin filter-aided digestions as compared to existing methods.
Leon, I. R., Schwämmle, V., Jensen, O. N., & Sprenger, R. R. (2013). Quantitative assessment of in-solution digestion efficiency identifies optimal protocols for unbiased protein analysis: Quantitative assessment of protein digestion protocols. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, 12(10), 2992-3005. https://doi.org/10.1074/mcp.M112.025585