Standard-Free Absolute Quantitation of Antibody Deamidation Degradation and Host Cell Proteins by Coulometric Mass Spectrometry

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Proteomic absolute quantitation strategies mainly rely on the use of synthetic stable isotope-labeled peptides or proteins as internal standards, which are highly costly and time-consuming to synthesize. To circumvent this limitation, we recently developed a coulometric mass spectrometry (CMS) approach for absolute quantitation of proteins without the use of standards, based on the electrochemical oxidation of oxidizable surrogate peptides, followed by mass spectrometry measurement of the peptide oxidation yield. Previously, CMS was only applied for single-protein quantitation. In this study, first, we demonstrated absolute quantitation of multiple proteins in a mixture (e.g., β-lactoglobulin B, α-lactalbumin, and carbonic anhydrase) by CMS in one run, without using any standards. The CMS quantitation result was validated with a traditional isotope dilution method. Second, CMS can be used for absolute quantitation of a low-level target protein in a mixture; for instance, 500 ppm of PLBL2, a problematic host cell protein (HCP), in the presence of a highly abundant monoclonal antibody (mAb) was successfully quantified by CMS with no use of standards. Third, taking one step further, this study demonstrated the unprecedented quantitative analysis of deamidated peptide products arising from the mAb heavy chain deamidation reaction. In particular, absolute quantitation of the deamidation succinimide intermediate which had not been performed before due to the lack of standard was conducted by CMS, for the first time. Overall, our data suggest that CMS has potential utilities for quantitative proteomics and biotherapeutic drug discovery.


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