- Number 348 |
- October 17, 2011
Healthy integration leads to a “sickening” discovery
computational analysis helped scientists
discover new proteins involved in food
By combining high-throughput measurements of multiple biological molecules and computational tools, scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Oregon Health & Science University found many new proteins that appear to be involved in Salmonella virulence, the culprit in several high-profile food recalls. Several proteins were selected and demonstrated to be involved in virulence, the critical part of the microbe’s sophisticated offensive and defensive strategies. Virulence proteins are part of what makes food poisoning debilitating and difficult to combat.
In this new method, the team used capillary liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to extensively characterize proteins present in Salmonella. The team measured the proteins in a wild-type strain of the microbe. Wild-type refers to the typical form of a species as it occurs in nature. They compared these measurements to a series of mutants, each lacking a specific regulatory protein required for systemic infection. They also measured the transcriptomes, which are molecules that carry the messages for protein expression.
From the resulting computational network predictions, the team discovered proteins not previously known to be involved in virulence. Additional experiments validated a subset of these proteins and discovered that they were secreted into the infected host, independent of the known Salmonella mechanisms for transporting virulence proteins.
“This approach offers an exciting method to utilize high-throughput technologies to infer protein biological roles in a new way, for Salmonella infections it offers a new approach to combat the persistent and adapting pathogen,” said Dr. Charles Ansong of PNNL. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institutes of Health funded this work. The scientists performed this work, in part, using resources developed by DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research and resources available in EMSL.
[Kristin Manke, 509.372.6011,