Comprehensive peptide marker identification for the detection of multiple nut allergens using a non-targeted LC–HRMS multi-method
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Food allergies have emerged as a global problem over the last few decades; therefore, reliable and sensitive analytical methods to ensure food safety for allergic consumers are required. The application of mass spectrometry is of growing interest in this field and several procedures based on low resolution tandem mass spectrometry using single tryptic peptides as analytical targets have recently been described. However, a comprehensive survey of marker peptides for the development of multi-methods is still missing, as is a consensus guide to marker identification. In this study, we therefore report a consistent approach to the development of liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS) multi-screening methods for the detection of allergens in food matrices. Proteotypic peptides were identified by a shotgun proteomics approach and verified through a thorough investigation of specificity and sensitivity. On the basis of this procedure, we identified 44 suitable tryptic marker peptides from six allergenic nut species and developed the first analytical LC–MS method for the detection of trace nut contaminations in processed foods using high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS). The analysis of spiked matrix samples gave limits of detection (LODs) below 10 μg/g for several nuts; these LODs are comparable with routinely used methods such as ELISA and PCR. Notably, the HRMS approach can be used in an untargeted fashion to identify multiple allergens also retrospectively. In conclusion, we present here the so far largest consensus set of analytical markers from nut allergens and to the best of our knowledge the first multi-allergen method based on LC–HRMS.
KeywordsFood allergens High resolution mass spectrometry Orbitrap Multi-method Marker peptides Nut allergy
The authors acknowledge support from the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes) for funding this work and thank Katrin Bassen for providing the pictures for the graphical abstract.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
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