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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development of high-efficiency undecanal-based N termini enrichment (HUNTER) for monitoring proteolytic processing in limited samples Weng, Shao Huan Samuel


Genes encode the information for the amino acid backbone of proteins. This information can be altered by genetic variation or alternative splicing and alternative initiation of translation. After translation the protein can further alter by post-translational modification. All these different versions of a protein encoded by one gene are termed proteoforms. Protein N termini can be used to identify truncated (proteolytically cleaved), alternatively translated, or N terminally modified proteoforms that often have distinct functions. Cleavage of proteins by proteases is frequently altered in disease, including cancers and following the occurrence and loss of protein N termini can pinpoint abnormal proteolytic activity in disease. Selective enrichment of N-terminal peptides is necessary for proteome-wide coverage for unbiased identification of site-specific proteolytic processing and protease substrates; however, for comprehensive study of N termini so-called N-terminome analysis, most N termini enrichment techniques require relatively large amounts of starting material in the range of several hundred micrograms to milligrams of crude protein lysate. Due to sample constraints, this type of analysis cannot be routinely applied to clinical biopsies, especially those from pediatric patients. We present High-efficiency Undecanal-based N Termini EnRichment (HUNTER), a robust, sensitive, and scalable method for the analysis of previously inaccessible microscale samples. With this approach, >1,000 N termini are identified from a minimum of 2 µg raw HeLa cell lysate and >5,000 termini from 200 µg of raw HeLa lysate with high-pH pre-fractionation. We demonstrate the broad applicability of HUNTER with the first N-terminome analysis of sorted human primary immune cells and enriched mitochondrial fractions from pediatric cancer patients. The workflow was implemented on a liquid handling system to demonstrate the feasibility of automated liquid biopsy processing from pediatric cancer patients. In general, HUNTER method benefits in handling rare and precious clinical samples.

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