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Funding Update: Apr 30, 2010


Recent NSF Awards in Proteomics and Protein Research

Title: MRI-R2: Acquisition of a High Performance Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry System
Principal Investigator: Deon Miles; Robert Bachman
Sponsor: University of the South
Start/End Date: May 1, 2010 – April 30, 2013
Amount Awarded to Date: $350,000

The grant will be used to purchase an HPLC-MS/MS to support research activities, including the identification of S-nitrosylated proteins and their degree of nitrosylation, and isolation and characterization of cardiolipin from skeletal muscle membrane phospholipids fatty acids, according to the abstract.

Title: Conference: Symposium on Plant Protein Phosphorylation, May 26-28, Columbia, Mo.
Principal Investigator: John Walker
Sponsor: University of Missouri
Start/End Date: May 1, 2010 – April 30, 2011
Amount Awarded to Date: $10,000

Funds a symposium that will serve as an international meeting to examine "the challenges and emerging paradigms in studies of protein phosphorylation," according to the abstract. Interaction between disciplines will be encouraged to stimulate new research collaborations, and emphasis will be placed on including young investigators as speakers, poster presenters, and attendees.

Title: QuasiNovo: An Information Theoretic Approach to De Novo Peptide Sequencing
Principal Investigator: John Rose; Ian Dryden; Karen Fox
Sponsor: University of South Carolina Research Foundation
Start/End Date: April 15, 2010 – March 31, 2013
Amount Awarded to Date: $643,747

Funds the development of tools for peptide identification. According to the abstract, the most popular approach for peptide identification involves querying experimental data against a database of known peptides. "A major weakness of all database approaches is that they are unable to identify peptides that are not in the database," the researchers said. The goal of the project is to make "significant improvements" in the accuracy of de novo peptide sequencing through a systematic study of the use of amino acid usage models in fragmentation and cross-correlation peptide scoring functions. "Preliminary results strongly support the hypothesis that a scoring function that considers amino acid usage patterns will be better able to distinguish between candidate peptides," the researchers said in the abstract. "This in turn will lead to much higher accuracy in peptide prediction." The researchers will develop a Bayesian model to explore the uncertainty of candidate peptides produced by de novo sequencing.

Title: SBIR Phase II: Development of a Eukaryotic Membrane Protein Overexpression System
Principal Investigator: Hiep-Hoa Nguyen
Sponsor: Transmembrane Biosciences
Start/End Date: April 1, 2010 - March 31, 2012
Amount Awarded to Date: $500,000

Funds a project to create a "novel, economical, and powerful production technology for eukaryotic membrane proteins," according to the abstract. The researchers said that most membrane proteins are "very difficult to obtain" in significant quantities, "even at milligram scale since their natural biosynthesis levels often are very low." Current production methods are ineffective for membrane proteins, they added. The project will use a versatile and easy-to-cultivate microorganism that can "proliferate membranes under certain conditions to host the recombinant membrane proteins." Various strategies will be evaluated through activity assays and direct protein isolation.

Title: CAREER: Library Based Design of Linked Equilibria to Control Protein Interactions
Principal Investigator: James Horn
Sponsor: Northern Illinois University
Start/End Date: March 15, 2010 – Feb. 28, 2011
Amount Awarded to Date: $125,500

The project is directed at studying single domain antibody fragments as a "vehicle for understanding and applying linked equilibria in biomolecular systems," according to the abstract. "By combining recent advances in protein engineering techniques with biophysical and structural analysis, this research will explore several methods to engineer reversible control of antibody interactions through the introduction of linked equilibria." Several methods will be evaluated to either reduce or enhance antibody binding under defined conditions, and the resulting methods and reagents will help "stimulate new directions in research and biotechnology by providing unique routes to control protein interactions."

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.