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Quantification of a Peptide Standard Using the Intrinsic Fluorescence of Tyrosine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2187–2193
Early online date15 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


King's Authors


Absolute quantification of peptides is typically achieved using amino acid analysis, elemental analysis or derivatisation chemistry. Impurities, if present, may be accounted for using analytical high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with detection of the peptide bond ultraviolet (UV) absorbance. To do this, peak areas from a UV chromatogram are used to estimate percentage purity on a mass basis, and this purity value is used as a correction. However, because the approach assumes that UV absorbance is uniformly proportional to mass, the result may be only semi-quantitative. Here, an alternative approach involving HPLC with detection of intrinsic tyrosine fluorescence is described. The fluorescence properties of a 21-residue synthetic peptide corresponding to an S-carbamidomethylated tryptic fragment of human serum albumin were characterised, and a method involving quantification relative to a non-peptidic calibrant, N-acetyl-l-tyrosine ethyl ester, was established. The method was used to quantify the thiol form of the peptide, and the results were compared with a parallel analysis involving derivatisation of the same material with Ellman’s reagent. When differences in fluorescence response (analyte versus calibrant) were accounted for, the measurements obtained via the two methods were in good agreement. Contributions from peptidic impurities were also considered, and their influence on the validity of the conclusions was evaluated. Despite some ambiguities introduced by the impurities, and the identification of some other potential sources of error, the results demonstrate that use of Tyr fluorescence is a promising solution to the challenging problem of absolute peptide quantification.

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