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Status of complete proteome analysis by mass spectrometry: SILAC labeled yeast as a model system

Lyris MF de Godoy12, Jesper V Olsen12, Gustavo A de Souza12, Guoqing Li1, Peter Mortensen2 and Matthias Mann12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction, Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry, Am Klopferspitz, 82152 Martinsried, Germany

2 Center for Experimental BioInformatics, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej, 5230 Odense M, Denmark

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Genome Biology 2006, 7:R50  doi:10.1186/gb-2006-7-6-r50

Published: 19 June 2006



Mass spectrometry has become a powerful tool for the analysis of large numbers of proteins in complex samples, enabling much of proteomics. Due to various analytical challenges, so far no proteome has been sequenced completely. O'Shea, Weissman and co-workers have recently determined the copy number of yeast proteins, making this proteome an excellent model system to study factors affecting coverage.


To probe the yeast proteome in depth and determine factors currently preventing complete analysis, we grew yeast cells, extracted proteins and separated them by one-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Peptides resulting from trypsin digestion were analyzed by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry on a linear ion trap-Fourier transform mass spectrometer with very high mass accuracy and sequencing speed. We achieved unambiguous identification of more than 2,000 proteins, including very low abundant ones. Effective dynamic range was limited to about 1,000 and effective sensitivity to about 500 femtomoles, far from the subfemtomole sensitivity possible with single proteins. We used SILAC (stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture) to generate one-to-one pairs of true peptide signals and investigated if sensitivity, sequencing speed or dynamic range were limiting the analysis.


Advanced mass spectrometry methods can unambiguously identify more than 2,000 proteins in a single proteome. Complex mixture analysis is not limited by sensitivity but by a combination of dynamic range (high abundance peptides preventing sequencing of low abundance ones) and by effective sequencing speed. Substantially increased coverage of the yeast proteome appears feasible with further development in software and instrumentation.