Anal. Chem. 94 (43) 15048-15056 [2022-11-01; online 2022-10-17]
Measuring the relative abundances of heavy stable isotopes of the elements C, H, N, and O in proteins is of interest in environmental science, archeology, zoology, medicine, and other fields. The isotopic abundance measurements of the fine structure of immonium ions with ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry obtained in gas-phase fragmentation of polypeptides have previously uncovered anomalous deuterium enrichment in (hydroxy)proline of bone collagen in marine mammals. Here, we provide a detailed description and validation of this approach and demonstrate per mil-range precision of isotopic ratio measurements in aliphatic residues from proteins and cell lysates. The analysis consists of proteomics-type experiment demanding sub-microgram amounts of a protein sample and providing concomitantly protein sequence data allowing one to verify sample purity and establish its identity. A novel software tool protein amino acid-resolved isotopic ratio mass spectrometry (PAIR-MS) is presented for extracting isotopic ratio data from the raw data files acquired on an Orbitrap mass spectrometer.