Navigation Links
Carnegie Mellon scientist uses mass spectrometer to weigh virus particle, von Willebrand factor
Date:8/23/2007

BOSTONWith unprecedented sensitivity, Carnegie Mellon Universitys Mark Bier has characterized large viral particles and bulky von Willebrand factors using a novel mass spectrometer. These exciting results may lead to new biological discoveries and represent a step closer to rapid disease diagnosis using mass spectrometry.

This is a new frontier in mass spectrometry research, said Bier, associate research professor and director of the Center for Molecular Analysis in the Department of Chemistry in the Mellon College of Science. We anticipate that this work will help to advance research in proteomics, virology, molecular biology and nanotechnology. Bier will present his research Thursday, Aug. 23 at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

Mass spectrometers, which separate molecules based on their mass-to-charge ratio, can help researchers identify compounds based on their unique mass and are routinely used to determine the weight, structure and amount of small molecules or fragments of molecules. Conventional instruments, however, are not equipped to sensitively characterize large molecules over 150 kiloDaltons (a measure of mass) at a low-charge state.

Using a Macromizer mass spectrometer, Biers group successfully analyzed the outer shell of the HK97 virus. They collected a mass spectrum of the mature protein shell, which weighs 12.9 megaDaltons (12,900 kiloDaltons) and the uncleaved protein shell (17.7 megaDaltons), which revealed an unprecedented 30+ positive charges. They also collected an improved mass spectrum of a von Willebrand factor (0.2 to 1.1 megaDaltons), a protein complex in blood necessary for proper coagulation. The ability to directly mass-analyze these heavy biological molecules intact and at a low-charge state represents a new level of analysis previously unattainable using conventional detector technology, according to Bier.

Many biological molecules are too big to be analyzed efficiently at low-charge states using current mass spectrometers, so most scientists break proteins down into smaller fragments before analyzing them in the mass spectrometer. Although an effective and powerful technique, this bottom-up approach typically takes days to complete and does not allow scientists to use mass spectrometers to directly study many large, intact proteins and other macromolecular complexes.

Bier conducted his studies using a top-down approach of the intact complex using a cryodetector-based MALDI TOF mass spectrometer (Macromizer) equipped with 16 superconducting tunnel junctions. Carnegie Mellon houses the only two of these instruments in the U.S. Biers group can use the Macromizer to measure the molecular weight of a large, intact protein or a protein complex in a matter of seconds. Because it can measure intact protein complexes, this approach also avoids the sample loss that typically occurs during the bottom-up approach.

Our results are a first step toward our ultimate goal to identify a virus, clotting factor or any type of large biological molecule by just weighing it or its gas-phase-generated fragments, said Bier. This would provide a rapid clinical tool to diagnose a viral infection or a blood disease, for example.

Bier is collaborating with Roger Hendrix, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, who studies how the outer shell of the HK97 virus assembles. Because Hendrix characterizes viral proteins, particles and subunits that are too heavy to study using currently available mass spectrometers, Bier hopes that his data will help them discover new biology. Bier is also collaborating with Dominic Chung, a research professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Tom Howard, a medical doctor at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, who together study von Willebrand factors. Marks analysis by mass spectrometry displays a lot of the details about the composition of normal human plasma von Willebrand factor. This spectrum is truly amazing and very revealing, Chung said.

Biers current work is part of a grant from the National Science Foundations (NSF) Biological Infrastructure program, which supports varied activities that provide the infrastructure for contemporary research in biology. With this NSF support, Bier is also building a next-generation heavy ion mass spectrometer.


'/>"/>
Contact: Amy Pavlak
apavlak@andrew.cmu.edu
412-268-8619
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Carnegie Mellon scientists develop tool that uses MRI to visualize gene expression in living animals
2. Robot-based system developed at Carnegie Mellon detects life in Chiles Atacama desert
3. Green catalyst destroys pesticides and munitions toxins, finds Carnegie Mellon University
4. Carnegie Mellon University research reveals how cells process large genes
5. Carnegie Mellon cyLab researchers work to develop new red tide monitoring
6. Team led by Carnegie Mellon University scientist finds first evidence of a living memory trace
7. Carnegie Mellon scientists create PNA molecule with potential to build nanodevices
8. Carnegie Mellon U. transforms DNA microarrays with standard Internet communications tool
9. Carnegie Mellon develops non-invasive technique to detect transplant rejection at cellular level
10. Carnegie Mellon scientists show brain uses optimal code for sound
11. DNA conclusive yet still controversial, Carnegie Mellon professor says
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
(Date:3/23/2016)... March 23, 2016 ... Sicherheit Gesichts- und Stimmerkennung mit Passwörtern ... (NASDAQ: MESG ), ein führender Anbieter ... Unternehmen mit SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um erstmals dessen ... wird die Möglichkeit angeboten, im Rahmen mobiler ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... and SANDY, Utah , March ... operates the highest sample volume laboratory in ... and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical sequencing informatics and molecular ... of a project to establish the informatics infrastructure for ... NSO has been contracted by the Ontario Ministry ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... bring innovative medical technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. The company's ... of various distribution, manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary to help ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... 2016  Liquid Biotech USA ... a Sponsored Research Agreement with The University of ... from cancer patients.  The funding will be used ... with clinical outcomes in cancer patients undergoing a ... be employed to support the design of a ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016  Regular discussions on a range of subjects including ... two entities said Poloz. Speaking at a lecture ... , he pointed to the country,s inflation target, which is ... "In certain areas there ... common economic goals, why not sit down and address strategy ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial ... Cary 5000 and the 6000i models are higher end machines that use the more ... the spectrophotometer’s light beam from the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci ...
Breaking Biology Technology: