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PNNL expands blood serum protein library

RICHLAND, Wash. - In a significant scientific advance, researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have identified or confirmed 490 proteins in human blood serum - nearly doubling the number of known serum proteins, according to a paper accepted for publication in the December issue of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics.

"We have performed the most extensive identification of proteins in serum to date," said Joel Pounds, corresponding author and a PNNL staff scientist. "We studied blood serum because it holds clues to all the major processes in our bodies. We need to know what proteins exist in that serum to know how they might be used to predict disease susceptibility, monitor disease progression or diagnose disease."

These clues include proteins that "leak" from dead and dying cells, and proteins secreted into blood or released from tumors. Identifying these proteins allows scientists to conduct additional studies to define each protein's functional role in cells and the body.

The scientific community has studied plasma, the parent component to serum, for more than a hundred years. Recent studies have primarily utilized a technique called two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to study proteins found in plasma, yet this method is limited in its ability to identify proteins that exist in small amounts, known as low-abundance proteins, and is labor intensive. The identification of low-abundance proteins is important as many of these proteins often function as "messengers" that inform cells to turn signaling pathways on or off - such functions are central to cell death or disease development.

"After a long period of slow progress, research on the plasma proteome has begun a period of explosive growth attributable to new multidimensional fractionation methods," said N. Leigh Anderson, founder and chief executive officer of The Plasma Proteome Institute (www
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Contact: Staci Maloof
staci.maloof@pnl.gov
509-372-6313
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
18-Dec-2002


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