A robust top down proteomics method is presented for profiling alpha-synuclein species from autopsied human frontal cortex brain tissue from Parkinson's cases and controls. The method was used to test the hypothesis that pathology associated brain tissue will have a different profile of post-translationally modified alpha-synuclein than the control samples. Validation of the sample processing steps, mass spectrometry based measurements, and data processing steps were performed. The intact protein quantitation method features extraction and integration of m/z data from each charge state of a detected alpha-synuclein species and fitting of the data to a simple linear model which accounts for concentration and charge state variability. The quantitation method was validated with serial dilutions of intact protein standards. Using the method on the human brain samples, several previously unreported modifications in alpha-synuclein were identified. Low levels of phosphorylated alpha synuclein were detected in brain tissue fractions enriched for Lewy body pathology and were marginally significant between PD cases and controls (p = 0.03).
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