Genetic, chemical, and environmental perturbations can all induce large changes in cellular proteomes, and research aimed at quantifying these changes are an important part of modern biology. Although improvements in the hardware and software of mass spectrometers have produced increased throughput and accuracy of such measurements, new uses of heavy isotope internal standards that assist in this process have emerged. Surprisingly, even complex life forms such as mammals can be grown to near-complete replacement with heavy isotopes of common biological elements such as 15N, and these isotopically labeled organisms provide excellent controls for isolating and identifying experimental variables such as extraction or fractionation efficiencies. We discuss here the theory and practice of these technologies, as well as provide a review of significant recent biological applications.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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