This news release is available in German.
Photographers know the problem all too well: with the naked eye, you can see which branch a bird is sitting on, but spotting the bird in the blur of branches through the telephoto lens for high-magnification images requires considerable skill. It is a similar story for researchers who are looking to study proteins, the active biomolecules of cells.
Olga Schubert, a doctoral student at ETH Zurich's Institute for Molecular Systems Biology, and her colleagues have now come up with a search aid. In order to help scientists to find a particular protein in the jumble of all other proteins (the proteome), they have produced a proteome atlas for the tuberculosis pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which they present in the latest issue of Cell Host & Microbe.
Like finding a needle in a haystack
Instead of a camera, scientists use a so-called mass spectrometer to measure proteins, which enables them to either record the overall image of the proteome or zoom in on particular sections to measure individual proteins precisely. However, for Selected Reaction Monitoring (SRM) close-ups with a telephoto lens researchers have to feed coordinates into the mass spectrometer so that it can find the selected protein in the tangle of thousands of other proteins.
Until now, scientists have had to determine the SRM coordinates for every single protein themselves, for instance when they want to study a specific biological process in the Mycobacterium. Schubert and her colleagues have made the search for the proverbial needle in a haystack easier by determining the coordinates for all the proteins of the tuberculosis pathogen. Using this new "reference work", scientists can now directly zoom in on the right spot on
|Contact: Olga Schubert|