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Kenneth C. Parker, Timothy K. Nadler, George J. Vella, Yulin Huang, Rudolf H. Aebersold, Marcus B. Smolka
Methods using gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry for the rapid, quantitative analysis of proteins or protein function in mixtures of proteins derived from two or more samples in one unit operation are disclosed. In one embodiment the method includes (a) preparing an extract of proteins from each of at least two different samples; (b) providing a set of substantially chemically identical and differentially isotopically labeled protein reagents; (c) reacting the extract of proteins from different samples of step (a) with a different isotopically labeled reagent from the set of step (b) to provide two or more sets of isotopically differentially labeled proteins; (d) mixing each of the two or more sets of isotopically labeled proteins to form a single mixture of isotopically differentially labeled proteins; (e) electrophoresing the mixture of step (d) by an electrophoresing method capable of separating proteins within the mixture; (f) digesting at least a portion of one or more separated proteins of step (e) and (g) detecting the difference in the expression levels of the proteins in the two samples by mass spectrometry based on one or more peptides in the sample of labeled peptides. The analytical method can be used for qualitative and particularly for quantitative analysis of global protein expression profiles in cells and tissues, i.e. the quantitative analysis of proteomes.