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Open Access Research

Characterization of the microheterogeneity of transthyretin in plasma and urine using SELDI-TOF-MS immunoassay

Florian J Schweigert*, Kerstin Wirth and Jens Raila

Author Affiliations

Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Institute of Nutritional Science, University of Potsdam, A.- Scheunert-Allee 114-116; D-14558 Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Germany

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Proteome Science 2004, 2:5  doi:10.1186/1477-5956-2-5

Published: 1 September 2004

Abstract

Background

It has been shown that transthyretin (TTR) exists in different molecular variants. Besides point mutations associated with different diseases such as amyloidosis, other posttranslational modifications occur that might be of diagnostic interest.

Results

TTR levels as determined by ELISA in plasma and urine of healthy individuals were 489 ± 155 μg/ml plasma and 46 ± 24 ng/g creatinine, respectively. Average levels in urine of pregnant women were 45 ± 65 μg/g creatinine. The molecular heterogeneity of TTR was analyzed using a high-throughput mass spectrometric immunoassay system. TTR was extracted from plasma or urine onto an antibody-coated (via protein A) affinity chip surface (PS20) using the surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization (SELDI) technique. Subsequently samples were subjected to time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOF-MS). In healthy individuals, TTR in plasma occurred rather consistently in two variants of 13732 ± 12 and 13851 ± 9 Da for the native and S-cysteinylated forms and at a smaller signal of 14043 ± 17 Da for the S-glutathionylated form. In urine of pregnant women, various signals were observed with a dominant signal at 13736 ± 10 Da and a varying number of smaller immunoreactive fragments. These fragments are possibly the consequence of metabolism in plasma or kidney.

Conclusion

This chip-based approach represents a rapid and accurate method to characterize the molecular variants of TTR including protein or peptide fragments which are either related to TTR or have resulted from its catabolism. These molecular variants may be of diagnostic importance as alternative or novel biomarkers due to their predominant relation to the TTR metabolism both in healthy and diseased individuals.