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J Proteome Res. 2007 Jun;6(6):2195-204. Epub 2007 Apr 20.

Large-scale identification of N-terminal peptides in the halophilic archaea Halobacterium salinarum and Natronomonas pharaonis.

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Department of Membrane Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, 82152 Martinsried, Germany.


Characterization of protein N-terminal peptides supports the quality assessment of data derived from genomic sequences (e.g., the correct assignment of start codons) and hints to in vivo N-terminal modifications such as N-terminal acetylation and removal of the initiator methionine. The current work represents the first large-scale identification of N-terminal peptides from prokaryotes, of the two halophilic euryarchaeota Halobacterium salinarum and Natronomonas pharaonis. Two methods were used that specifically allow the characterization of protein N-terminal peptides: combined fractional diagonal chromatography (COFRADIC) and strong cation exchange chromatography (SCX), both known to enrich for N-terminally blocked peptides. In addition to these specific methods, N-terminal peptide identifications were extracted from our previous genome-wide proteomic data. Combining all data, 606 N-terminal peptides from Hbt. salinarum and 328 from Nmn. pharaonis were reliably identified. These results constitute the largest available dataset holding identified and characterized protein N-termini for prokaryotes (archaea and bacteria). They allowed the validation/improvement of start codon assignments as automatic gene finders tend to misassign start codons for GC-rich genomes. In addition, the dataset allowed unravelling N-terminal protein maturation in archaea, showing that 60% of the proteins undergo methionine cleavage and that-in contrast to current knowledge-Nalpha-acetylation is common in the archaeal domain of life with 13-18% of the proteins being Nalpha-acetylated. The protein sets described in this paper are available by FTP and might be used as reference sets to test the performance of new gene finders.

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