SARCOSYL-PAGE: Optimized Protocols for the Separation and Immunological Detection of PEGylated Proteins

Christian Reichel, Günter Gmeiner, Philipp Reihlen, Mario Thevis, Wilhelm Schänzer

Publication: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingContributions to collected editions/anthologiesResearchpeer-review


PEGylation of recombinant proteins and synthetic peptides aims to generate biopharmaceuticals with altered physical properties. The modification may lead to a prolonged serum half-life caused by decreased receptor-mediated endocytosis and/or delay in renal clearance caused by the increased hydrodynamic volume of the pharmaceutical. MIRCERA, a PEGylated recombinant erythropoietin (rhEPO) used in the treatment of anemia due to chronic kidney disease, has also been abused by athletes as performance-enhancing drug. While it can be detected by sodium dodecylsulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and immunoblotting, the sensitivity of the test is significantly lower compared to other epoetins. By replacing SDS with sarcosyl in the sample and running buffers, the interaction between SDS and the PEG group of the protein no longer reduces the affinity of the monoclonal anti-EPO antibody (clone AE7A5) to the protein chain. Contrary to SDS, sarcosyl only binds to the amino acid chain of the PEGylated protein and thus leads to a sharper electrophoretic band and enhanced antibody binding. While the method was originally developed for anti-doping purposes, it may also be useful for the electrophoretic separation and immunological detection of other PEGylated proteins. Protocols for urine and serum are presented. They are also applicable for the general detection of EPO-based erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESA) in these matrices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationElectrophoretic separation of proteins : methods and protocols
EditorsBiji T. Kurien, R. Hal Scofield
Number of pages19
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherHumana Press
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)978-1-4939-8792-4
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4939-8793-1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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