Carnegie Mellon U. conducts first comprehensive proteomic analysis of developing animal

Carnegie Mellon University scientists have performed the first comprehensive proteome analysis of protein changes that occur in a developing animal, making surprising findings that could require scientists to revise standard thinking about how proteins orchestrate critical steps in embryonic development.

Their findings could one day provide a sensitive way to measure how drugs or environmental chemicals affect specific protein networks and harm development.

The research, reported online (http://dev.biologists.org/content/vol131/issue3/) and in the February 1 issue of Development, found that specific cells set to change shape during a key growth step are actually poised for their transformation far in advance and that many types of proteins are involved.

"Our findings counter long-held assumptions that a limited number of proteins are responsible for this step of development and that they become active right before the cells change shape," said Jonathan Minden, principal investigator on the study and associate professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.

The researchers studied the complete proteome, or all the proteins, within embryos of the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster. They compared proteomes at three stages of fruitfly development to witness changes that occurred as some cells folded into the body to form structures including the nerves, immune system and muscles. This process, called gastrulation, is a critical growth step for virtually every animal, from insects to humans.

During gastrulation, in a process called ventral furrow formation, column-shaped cells along the underside of the fruitfly become cone-shaped, which drives them to the interior or the embryo.

In their proteomic analysis, the Carnegie Mellon scientists found changes in the abundance of many types of proteins well before gastrulation. These included proteins that contr

Contact: Lauren Ward
Carnegie Mellon University

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