BACKGROUND: For many years, basic and clinical researchers have taken advantage of the analytical sensitivity and specificity afforded by mass spectrometry in the measurement of proteins. Clinical laboratories are now beginning to deploy these work flows as well. For assays that use proteolysis to generate peptides for protein quantification and characterization, synthetic stable isotopelabeled internal standard peptides are of central importance. No general recommendations are currently available surrounding the use of peptides in protein mass spectrometric assays. CONTENT: The Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium of the National Cancer Institute has collaborated with clinical laboratorians, peptide manufacturers, metrologists, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, and other professionals to develop a consensus set of recommendations for peptide procurement, characterization, storage, and handling, as well as approaches to the interpretation of the data generated by mass spectrometric protein assays. Additionally, the importance of carefully characterized reference materials-in particular, peptide standards for the improved concordance of amino acid analysis methods across the industry-is highlighted. The alignment of practices around the use of peptides and the transparency of sample preparation protocols should allow for the harmonization of peptide and protein quantification in research and clinical care.
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