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1.  A straightforward and efficient analytical pipeline for metaproteome characterization 
Microbiome  2014;2(1):49.
Background
The massive characterization of host-associated and environmental microbial communities has represented a real breakthrough in the life sciences in the last years. In this context, metaproteomics specifically enables the transition from assessing the genomic potential to actually measuring the functional expression of a microbiome. However, significant research efforts are still required to develop analysis pipelines optimized for metaproteome characterization.
Results
This work presents an efficient analytical pipeline for shotgun metaproteomic analysis, combining bead-beating/freeze-thawing for protein extraction, filter-aided sample preparation for cleanup and digestion, and single-run liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry for peptide separation and identification. The overall procedure is more time-effective and less labor-intensive when compared to state-of-the-art metaproteomic techniques. The pipeline was first evaluated using mock microbial mixtures containing different types of bacteria and yeasts, enabling the identification of up to over 15,000 non-redundant peptide sequences per run with a linear dynamic range from 104 to 108 colony-forming units. The pipeline was then applied to the mouse fecal metaproteome, leading to the overall identification of over 13,000 non-redundant microbial peptides with a false discovery rate of <1%, belonging to over 600 different microbial species and 250 functionally relevant protein families. An extensive mapping of the main microbial metabolic pathways actively functioning in the gut microbiome was also achieved.
Conclusions
The analytical pipeline presented here may be successfully used for the in-depth and time-effective characterization of complex microbial communities, such as the gut microbiome, and represents a useful tool for the microbiome research community.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40168-014-0049-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s40168-014-0049-2
PMCID: PMC4266899  PMID: 25516796
Gut microbiota; Microbial community; Mouse; Metaproteomics; Protein extraction; Proteomic methods; Shotgun proteomics; Mass spectrometry; LC-MS/MS; Single-run liquid chromatography
2.  Impact of three commercial feed formulations on farmed gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata, L.) metabolism as inferred from liver and blood serum proteomics 
Proteome Science  2014;12(1):44.
Background
The zootechnical performance of three different commercial feeds and their impact on liver and serum proteins of gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata, L.) were assessed in a 12 week feeding trial. The three feeds, named A, B, and C, were subjected to lipid and protein characterization by gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), respectively.
Results
Feed B was higher in fish-derived lipids and proteins, while feeds C and A were higher in vegetable components, although the largest proportion of feed C proteins was represented by pig hemoglobin. According to biometric measurements, the feeds had significantly different impacts on fish growth, producing a higher average weight gain and a lower liver somatic index in feed B over feeds A and C, respectively. 2D DIGE/MS analysis of liver tissue and Ingenuity pathways analysis (IPA) highlighted differential changes in proteins involved in key metabolic pathways of liver, spanning carbohydrate, lipid, protein, and oxidative metabolism. In addition, serum proteomics revealed interesting changes in apolipoproteins, transferrin, warm temperature acclimation-related 65 kDa protein (Wap65), fibrinogen, F-type lectin, and alpha-1-antitrypsin.
Conclusions
This study highlights the contribution of proteomics for understanding and improving the metabolic compatibility of feeds for marine aquaculture, and opens new perspectives for its monitoring with serological tests.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12953-014-0044-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12953-014-0044-3
PMCID: PMC4200174  PMID: 25342931
Gilthead sea bream; Aquaculture; Fish feed; Farmed fish; Liver proteins; Serum proteins; 2D DIGE; Mass spectrometry; Ingenuity pathway analysis; Proteomics
3.  An Easy and Efficient Method for Native and Immunoreactive Echinococcus granulosus Antigen 5 Enrichment from Hydatid Cyst Fluid 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104962.
Background
Currently, the serodiagnosis of cystic echinococcosis relies mostly on crude Echinococcus granulosus hydatid cyst fluid as the antigen. Consequently, available immunodiagnostic tests lack standardization of the target antigen and, in turn, this is reflected on poor sensitivity and specificity of the serological diagnosis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, a chromatographic method enabling the generation of highly enriched Antigen 5 (Ag5) is described. The procedure is very easy, efficient and reproducible, since different hydatid cyst fluid (HCF) sources produced very similar chromatograms, notwithstanding the clearly evident and extreme heterogeneity of the starting material. In addition, the performance of the antigen preparation in immunological assays was preliminarily assessed by western immunoblotting and ELISA on a limited panel of cystic echinococcosis patients and healthy controls. Following western immunoblotting and ELISA experiments, a high reactivity of patient sera was seen, with unambiguous and highly specific results.
Conclusions/Significance
The methods and results reported open interesting perspectives for the development of sensitive diagnostic tools to enable the timely and unambiguous detection of cystic echinococcosis antibodies in patient sera.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104962
PMCID: PMC4132071  PMID: 25119821
4.  Critical comparison of sample preparation strategies for shotgun proteomic analysis of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples: insights from liver tissue 
Clinical Proteomics  2014;11(1):28.
Background
The growing field of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue proteomics holds promise for improving translational research. Direct tissue trypsinization (DT) and protein extraction followed by in solution digestion (ISD) or filter-aided sample preparation (FASP) are the most common workflows for shotgun analysis of FFPE samples, but a critical comparison of the different methods is currently lacking.
Experimental design
DT, FASP and ISD workflows were compared by subjecting to the same label-free quantitative approach three independent technical replicates of each method applied to FFPE liver tissue. Data were evaluated in terms of method reproducibility and protein/peptide distribution according to localization, MW, pI and hydrophobicity.
Results
DT showed lower reproducibility, good preservation of high-MW proteins, a general bias towards hydrophilic and acidic proteins, much lower keratin contamination, as well as higher abundance of non-tryptic peptides. Conversely, FASP and ISD proteomes were depleted in high-MW proteins and enriched in hydrophobic and membrane proteins; FASP provided higher identification yields, while ISD exhibited higher reproducibility.
Conclusions
These results highlight that diverse sample preparation strategies provide significantly different proteomic information, and present typical biases that should be taken into account when dealing with FFPE samples. When a sufficient amount of tissue is available, the complementary use of different methods is suggested to increase proteome coverage and depth.
doi:10.1186/1559-0275-11-28
PMCID: PMC4115481  PMID: 25097466
Archival tissues; FASP; FFPE; LC-MS/MS; Protein extraction
5.  Production and Release of Antimicrobial and Immune Defense Proteins by Mammary Epithelial Cells following Streptococcus uberis Infection of Sheep 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(9):3182-3197.
Investigating the innate immune response mediators released in milk has manifold implications, spanning from elucidation of the role played by mammary epithelial cells (MECs) in fighting microbial infections to the discovery of novel diagnostic markers for monitoring udder health in dairy animals. Here, we investigated the mammary gland response following a two-step experimental infection of lactating sheep with the mastitis-associated bacterium Streptococcus uberis. The establishment of infection was confirmed both clinically and by molecular methods, including PCR and fluorescent in situ hybridization of mammary tissues. Proteomic investigation of the milk fat globule (MFG), a complex vesicle released by lactating MECs, enabled detection of enrichment of several proteins involved in inflammation, chemotaxis of immune cells, and antimicrobial defense, including cathelicidins and calprotectin (S100A8/S100A9), in infected animals, suggesting the consistent involvement of MECs in the innate immune response to pathogens. The ability of MECs to produce and release antimicrobial and immune defense proteins was then demonstrated by immunohistochemistry and confocal immunomicroscopy of cathelicidin and the calprotectin subunit S100A9 on mammary tissues. The time course of their release in milk was also assessed by Western immunoblotting along the course of the experimental infection, revealing the rapid increase of these proteins in the MFG fraction in response to the presence of bacteria. Our results support an active role of MECs in the innate immune response of the mammary gland and provide new potential for the development of novel and more sensitive tools for monitoring mastitis in dairy animals.
doi:10.1128/IAI.00291-13
PMCID: PMC3754230  PMID: 23774600
6.  Evaluating the Impact of Different Sequence Databases on Metaproteome Analysis: Insights from a Lab-Assembled Microbial Mixture 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82981.
Metaproteomics enables the investigation of the protein repertoire expressed by complex microbial communities. However, to unleash its full potential, refinements in bioinformatic approaches for data analysis are still needed. In this context, sequence databases selection represents a major challenge.
This work assessed the impact of different databases in metaproteomic investigations by using a mock microbial mixture including nine diverse bacterial and eukaryotic species, which was subjected to shotgun metaproteomic analysis. Then, both the microbial mixture and the single microorganisms were subjected to next generation sequencing to obtain experimental metagenomic- and genomic-derived databases, which were used along with public databases (namely, NCBI, UniProtKB/SwissProt and UniProtKB/TrEMBL, parsed at different taxonomic levels) to analyze the metaproteomic dataset. First, a quantitative comparison in terms of number and overlap of peptide identifications was carried out among all databases. As a result, only 35% of peptides were common to all database classes; moreover, genus/species-specific databases provided up to 17% more identifications compared to databases with generic taxonomy, while the metagenomic database enabled a slight increment in respect to public databases. Then, database behavior in terms of false discovery rate and peptide degeneracy was critically evaluated. Public databases with generic taxonomy exhibited a markedly different trend compared to the counterparts. Finally, the reliability of taxonomic attribution according to the lowest common ancestor approach (using MEGAN and Unipept software) was assessed. The level of misassignments varied among the different databases, and specific thresholds based on the number of taxon-specific peptides were established to minimize false positives. This study confirms that database selection has a significant impact in metaproteomics, and provides critical indications for improving depth and reliability of metaproteomic results. Specifically, the use of iterative searches and of suitable filters for taxonomic assignments is proposed with the aim of increasing coverage and trustworthiness of metaproteomic data.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082981
PMCID: PMC3857319  PMID: 24349410
7.  Mycoplasma agalactiae MAG_5040 is a Mg2+-Dependent, Sugar-Nonspecific SNase Recognised by the Host Humoral Response during Natural Infection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57775.
In this study the enzymatic activity of Mycoplasma agalactiae MAG_5040, a magnesium-dependent nuclease homologue to the staphylococcal SNase was characterized and its antigenicity during natural infections was established. A UGA corrected version of MAG_5040, lacking the region encoding the signal peptide, was expressed in Escherichia coli as a GST fusion protein. Recombinant GST-MAG_5040 exhibits nuclease activity similar to typical sugar-nonspecific endo- and exonucleases, with DNA as the preferred substrate and optimal activity in the presence of 20 mM MgCl2 at temperatures ranging from 37 to 45°C. According to in silico analyses, the position of the gene encoding MAG_5040 is consistently located upstream an ABC transporter, in most sequenced mycoplasmas belonging to the Mycoplasma hominis group. In M. agalactiae, MAG_5040 is transcribed in a polycistronic RNA together with the ABC transporter components and with MAG_5030, which is predicted to be a sugar solute binding protein by 3D modeling and homology search. In a natural model of sheep and goats infection, anti-MAG_5040 antibodies were detected up to 9 months post infection. Taking into account its enzymatic activity, MAG_5040 could play a key role in Mycoplasma agalactiae survival into the host, contributing to host pathogenicity. The identification of MAG_5040 opens new perspectives for the development of suitable tools for the control of contagious agalactia in small ruminants.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057775
PMCID: PMC3585158  PMID: 23469065
8.  Proteomics and Pathway Analyses of the Milk Fat Globule in Sheep Naturally Infected by Mycoplasma agalactiae Provide Indications of the In Vivo Response of the Mammary Epithelium to Bacterial Infection ▿ ‡  
Infection and Immunity  2011;79(9):3833-3845.
Milk fat globules (MFGs) are vesicles released in milk as fat droplets surrounded by the endoplasmic reticulum and apical cell membranes. During formation and apocrine secretion by lactocytes, various amounts of cytoplasmic crescents remain trapped within the released vesicle, making MFGs a natural sampling mechanism of the lactating cell contents. With the aim of investigating the events occurring in the mammary epithelium during bacterial infection, the MFG proteome was characterized by two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis (2-D DIGE), SDS-PAGE followed by shotgun liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (GeLC-MS/MS), label-free quantification by the normalized spectral abundance factor (NSAF) approach, Western blotting, and pathway analysis, using sheep naturally infected by Mycoplasma agalactiae. A number of protein classes were found to increase in MFGs upon infection, including proteins involved in inflammation and host defense, cortical cytoskeleton proteins, heat shock proteins, and proteins related to oxidative stress. Conversely, a strikingly lower abundance was observed for proteins devoted to MFG metabolism and secretion. To our knowledge, this is the first report describing proteomic changes occurring in MFGs during sheep infectious mastitis. The results presented here offer new insights into the in vivo response of mammary epithelial cells to bacterial infection and open the way to the discovery of protein biomarkers for monitoring clinical and subclinical mastitis.
doi:10.1128/IAI.00040-11
PMCID: PMC3165467  PMID: 21690237
9.  Influence of Moraxella sp. colonization on the kidney proteome of farmed gilthead sea breams (Sparus aurata, L.) 
Proteome Science  2010;8:50.
Background
Currently, presence of Moraxella sp. in internal organs of fish is not considered detrimental for fish farming. However, bacterial colonization of internal organs can affect fish wellness and decrease growth rate, stress resistance, and immune response. Recently, there have been reports by farmers concerning slow growth, poor feed conversion, and low average weight increase of fish farmed in offshore floating sea cages, often associated with internal organ colonization by Moraxella sp. Therefore, presence of these opportunistic bacteria deserves further investigations for elucidating incidence and impact on fish metabolism.
Results
A total of 960 gilthead sea breams (Sparus aurata, L.), collected along 17 months from four offshore sea cage plants and two natural lagoons in Sardinia, were subjected to routine microbiological examination of internal organs throughout the production cycle. Thirteen subjects (1.35%) were found positive for Moraxella sp. in the kidney (7), brain (3), eye (1), spleen (1), and perivisceral fat (1). In order to investigate the influence of Moraxella sp. colonization, positive and negative kidney samples were subjected to a differential proteomics study by means of 2-D PAGE and mass spectrometry. Interestingly, Moraxella sp. infected kidneys displayed a concerted upregulation of several mitochondrial enzymes compared to negative tissues, reinforcing previous observations following lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge in fish.
Conclusions
Presence of Moraxella sp. in farmed sea bream kidney is able to induce proteome alterations similar to those described following LPS challenge in other fish species. This study revealed that Moraxella sp. might be causing metabolic alterations in fish, and provided indications on proteins that could be investigated as markers of infection by Gram-negative bacteria within farming plants.
doi:10.1186/1477-5956-8-50
PMCID: PMC2964643  PMID: 20939867
10.  The liposoluble proteome of Mycoplasma agalactiae: an insight into the minimal protein complement of a bacterial membrane 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:225.
Background
Mycoplasmas are the simplest bacteria capable of autonomous replication. Their evolution proceeded from gram-positive bacteria, with the loss of many biosynthetic pathways and of the cell wall. In this work, the liposoluble protein complement of Mycoplasma agalactiae, a minimal bacterial pathogen causing mastitis, polyarthritis, keratoconjunctivitis, and abortion in small ruminants, was subjected to systematic characterization in order to gain insights into its membrane proteome composition.
Results
The selective enrichment for M. agalactiae PG2T liposoluble proteins was accomplished by means of Triton X-114 fractionation. Liposoluble proteins were subjected to 2-D PAGE-MS, leading to the identification of 40 unique proteins and to the generation of a reference 2D map of the M. agalactiae liposoluble proteome. Liposoluble proteins from the type strain PG2 and two field isolates were then compared by means of 2D DIGE, revealing reproducible differences in protein expression among isolates. An in-depth analysis was then performed by GeLC-MS/MS in order to achieve a higher coverage of the liposoluble proteome. Using this approach, a total of 194 unique proteins were identified, corresponding to 26% of all M. agalactiae PG2T genes. A gene ontology analysis and classification for localization and function was also carried out on all protein identifications. Interestingly, the 11.5% of expressed membrane proteins derived from putative horizontal gene transfer events.
Conclusions
This study led to the in-depth systematic characterization of the M. agalactiae liposoluble protein component, providing useful insights into its membrane organization.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-225
PMCID: PMC2941501  PMID: 20738845

Results 1-10 (10)