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Selected expression profiling of full-length proteins and their variants in human plasma


With increased interest in clinical proteomics—the comparative investigation of differential protein expression patterns for use in the diagnostic and prognostic assessment of disease states—the demand for techniques that can readily identify changes in select proteome components is greater than ever before. This article describes a targeted proteomics approach to recover and quantify C-reactive protein (CRP) directly from human plasma. CRP, a putative biomarker for cardiac health, was isolated from microliter volumes of human plasma by using novel proteomics tools that combine micro-scale affinity capture with matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) detection. Native CRP was analyzed along with serum amyloid P component (SAP) and retinol binding protein (RBP), that were intentionally targeted to generate a selected protein expression profile. A number of qualitative changes were readily observed within these profiles, including micro heterogeneity in the SAP glycan, C-terminally truncated versions of RBP, and detection of a novel truncated variant of CRP. After quantitative validation of increasing plasma CRP concentrations, the approach was applied to the analysis of eight plasma samples obtained from individuals with known medical histories. The result of the analyses are eight protein profiles, revealing increasing CRP levels that can be associated with individuals ailing from post-surgery inflammation, chronic rheumatoid arthritis, and recent acute myocardial infarction. The technique described in this article lays the foundation for selected protein profiling for use in biomarker discovery, as well as in clinical and diagnostic applications.


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Correspondence to Randall W. Nelson.

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Kiernan, U.A., Nedelkov, D., Tubbs, K.A. et al. Selected expression profiling of full-length proteins and their variants in human plasma. Clin Proteom 1, 7–16 (2004).

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Key Words

  • Relative quantification
  • C-reactive protein
  • human plasma
  • protein expression profiles
  • immunoassay