Identifying previously unknown proteins or detecting the presence of known proteins in research samples is critical to many experiments conducted in life sciences, including dermatology. Sensitive protein detection can help elucidate new intervention targets and mechanisms of disease, such as in autoimmune blistering skin diseases, atopic eczema, or other conditions. Historically, peptides from highly purified single proteins were sequenced, with many limitations, by stepwise degradation from the N-terminus to the C-terminus with subsequent identification by UV absorbance spectroscopy of the released amino acids (i.e., Edman degradation). Recently, however, the availability of comprehensive protein databases from different species (derived from high-throughput next-generation sequencing of those organisms’ genomes) and sophisticated bioinformatics analysis tools have facilitated the development and use of mass spectrometry for identification and global analysis of proteins, summarized as mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Mass spectrometry is an analytical technique measuring the mass (m)-to-charge (z) ratio of ionized biological molecules such as peptides. Proteins can be identified by correlating peptide-derived experimental mass spectrometry spectra with theoretical spectra predicted from protein databases. Here we briefly describe how this technique works, how it can be used for identification of proteins, and how this knowledge can be applied in elucidating human biology and disease.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)