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Japanese Mushroom Leads To Breakthrough In Protein Research

Date:
May 3, 2008
Source:
Utrecht University
Summary:
Using an enzyme of the Japanese mushroom Grifola frondosa (Maitake or dancing mushroom), proteins can be identified without knowing the organism's genetic composition. This advance simplifies the study of proteins lying at the root of such diseases as cancer and diabetes.

Maitake mushrooms. Using an enzyme of the Japanese mushroom Grifola frondosa (Maitake or dancing mushroom), proteins can be identified without knowing the organism's genetic composition.
Credit: iStockphoto/Laryn Bakker

Using an enzyme of the Japanese mushroom Grifola frondosa (Maitake or dancing mushroom), proteins can be identified without knowing the organism's genetic composition. This advance simplifies the study of proteins lying at the root of such diseases as cancer and diabetes. Utrecht University Prof. Albert Heck's research group announced this breakthrough on the website of the journal Nature Methods.

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Proteins play a critical role in disease and growth processes of humans, animals and plants. Identification was previously only possible when the genetic composition of the organism in question was known. Thanks to Heck's discovery, this is now a thing of the past. Heck used an enzyme from the Japanese mushroom Grifola frondosa to identify proteins.

This makes it possible to study the proteins of an organism of which the genetic composition is – as yet – unknown (e.g. exotic animal species). In addition, research into proteins responsible for such diseases as cancer and diabetes, which usually undergo modification as a result, is much more effective.

Protein cleaving

In order to study the role proteins play in biological processes, the proteins themselves are cleaved into peptides, which are analysed using a mass spectrometer. The measurements produce a unique ‘fingerprint’ for each peptide. In the past, a protein could only be identified using the fingerprint after comparing the fingerprint to a database of known genetic compositions.

The enzyme of the Japanese mushroom that Heck used cleaved the proteins in such a way that the peptides produced simplified fingerprints. As a result, the proteins could be identified even though the organism's genome has not been mapped out. This greatly simplifies protein identification.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Utrecht University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Utrecht University. "Japanese Mushroom Leads To Breakthrough In Protein Research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430124524.htm>.
Utrecht University. (2008, May 3). Japanese Mushroom Leads To Breakthrough In Protein Research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430124524.htm
Utrecht University. "Japanese Mushroom Leads To Breakthrough In Protein Research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430124524.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

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