Uromodulin exclusion list improves urinary exosomal protein identification.
Hiemstra TF., Charles PD., Hester SS., Karet FE., Lilley KS.
Advances in mass spectrometry (MS) have encouraged interest in its deployment in urine biomarker studies, but success has been limited. Urine exosomes have been proposed as an ideal source of biomarkers for renal disease. However, the abundant urinary protein, uromodulin, cofractionates with exosomes during isolation and represents a practical contaminant that limits MS sensitivity. Uromodulin depletion has been attempted but is labor- and time-intensive and may remove important protein biomarkers. We describe the application of an exclusion list (ExL) of uromodulin-related peptide ions, coupled with high-sensitivity mass spectrometric analysis, to increase the depth of coverage of the urinary exosomal proteome. Urine exosomal protein samples from healthy volunteers were subjected to tandem MS and abundant uromodulin peptides identified. Samples were run for a second time, while excluding these uromodulin peptides from fragmentation to allow identification of peptides from lower-abundance proteins. Uromodulin exclusion was performed in addition to dynamic exclusion. Results from these two procedures revealed 222 distinct proteins from conventional analysis, compared with 254 proteins after uromodulin exclusion, of which 188 were common to both methods. By unmasking a previously unidentified protein set, adding the ExL increased overall protein identifications by 29.7% to a total of 288 proteins. A fixed ExL, used in combination with conventional methods, effectively increases the depth of urinary exosomal proteins identified by MS, reducing the need for uromodulin depletion.