A new ultrafast ultrasonic-based method for shotgun proteomics as well as label-free protein quantification in urine samples is developed. The method first separates the urine proteins using nitrocellulose-based membranes and then proteins are in-membrane digested using trypsin. The enzymatic digestion process is accelerated from overnight to four minutes using a sonoreactor ultrasonic device. Overall, the sample treatment pipeline comprising protein separation, digestion and identification is done in just 3 h. The process is assessed using urine of healthy volunteers. The method shows that male can be differentiated from female using the protein content of urine in a fast, easy and straightforward way. 232 and 226 proteins are identified in urine of male and female, respectively. From this, 162 are common to both genders, whilst 70 are unique to male and 64 to female. From the 162 common proteins, 13 are present at levels statistically different (p < 0.05). The method matches the analytical minimalism concept as outlined by Halls, as each stage of this analysis is evaluated to minimize the time, cost, sample requirement, reagent consumption, energy requirements and production of waste products.
- Biomaker discovery