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Protein fragments sequenced in 68 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex

so at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. She is a co-author on the Asara study.

That may change, said Lewis Cantley, HMS professor of Systems Biology and BIDMC chief of Signal Transduction, who also participated in the study. "Basically, this is the breakthrough that says it’s possible to get sequences beyond one million years. At 68 million years, it’s still possible to get sequences," he said. In addition to the seven dinosaur sequences, Asara and his colleagues isolated and sequenced more than 70 protein fragments from a 160,000- to 600,000-year-old mastodon, providing further evidence of the staying power of ancient protein.

"I think what this says is that when people make new discoveries now, if they want to get maximum information out, they have to immediately handle material in a way that first of all will avoid contamination and, second, ensure that whatever is there gets well preserved because it can be interrogated."

The scraps of dinosaur protein were wrested from a fossil femur discovered by John Horner, of the Museum of the Rockies, and colleagues in 2003 in Hell Creek Formation, a barren fossil-rich stretch of land that spans several states, including Wyoming and Montana. Schweitzer and colleagues reported in 2005 that they had found evidence of soft tissue inside the fossilized femur, a discovery widely covered. After seeing one such story in the New York Times, Cantley contacted Asara who, in 2002, had sequenced collagen fragments from 100,000- to 300,000-year-old mammoth bone samples sent by Schweitzer and colleagues. More recently, he has been working to develop mass spectrometry techniques capable of sequencing minute amounts of protein from human tumors.

"I realized when I read the New York Times article and saw Mary Schweitzer’s story of having uncovered this dinosaur that this is exactly the sort of thing that would appeal to John and hence ripped him off an e-mail from my Blackberry," Cantle
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Source:Harvard Medical School


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