Selected reaction monitoring (SRM) mass spectrometry can quantitatively measure proteins by specific targeting of peptide sequences, and allows the determination of multiple proteins in one single analysis. Here, we show the feasibility of simultaneous measurements of multiple proteins in mitochondria-enriched samples from cultured fibroblasts from healthy individuals and patients with mutations in branched-chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase (BCKDH) complex. BCKDH is a mitochondrial multienzyme complex and its defective activity causes maple syrup urine disease (MSUD), a rare but severe inherited metabolic disorder. Four different genes encode the catalytic subunits of BCKDH: E1α (BCKDHA), E1β (BCKDHB), E2 (DBT), and E3 (DLD). All four proteins were successfully quantified in healthy individuals. However, the E1α and E1β proteins were not detected in patients carrying mutations in one of those genes, whereas mRNA levels were almost unaltered, indicating instability of E1α and E1β monomers. Using SRM we elucidated the protein effects of mutations generating premature termination codons or misfolded proteins. SRM is a complement to transcript level measurements and a valuable tool to shed light on molecular mechanisms and on effects of pharmacological therapies at protein level. SRM is particularly effective for inherited disorders caused by multiple proteins such as defects in multienzyme complexes.
Molecular Genetics and Genomic Medicine, 2014, Vol 2, Issue 5, p. 383-92