BioScience Trends. 2011;5(6):231-238. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2011.v5.6.231)

Amino acid analysis of sub-picomolar amounts of proteins by precolumn fluorescence derivatization with 6-aminoquinolyl-N-hydroxysuccinimidyl carbamate.

Masuda A, Dohmae N


Amino acid analysis (AAA) method is the most accurate methodology for absolute quantification of proteins. The conventional postcolumn method employing ninhydrin labeling of amino acids, which is adopted in automatic amino acid analyzer, is limited by low sensitivity. Therefore, a highly sensitive AAA method is required to confirm the data obtained from mass spectrometry or N-terminal sequence analysis. To increase the sensitivity of AAA, an analytical method based on precolumn derivatization with fluorescent 6-aminoquinolyl-carbamyl (AQC) reagent and separation of the AQC-amino acid derivatives by ion-pair chromatography using a reversed-phase column is reported herein. The sensitive analysis of low abundance proteins requires strict prevention of environmental contamination. In this review, we provide a protocol for high sensitivity amino acid analysis and show that the amino acid composition of bovine serum albumin below 100 ng, i.e., 1.5 pmol, determined using the presented method, matched with the theoretical composition in with low standard deviations. These results suggest that the current AAA method is potentially applicable for highly sensitive analysis as a complement to mass spectrometry-based proteomics.

KEYWORDS: Highly sensitive amino acid analysis, protein quantification

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